Ground operations may increase in the coming days as Russian air bombardment of western Ukraine includes rail infrastructure. More brutality is revealed in Mariupol as the Azovstol steel plant defenders continue to resist. Recalling the attack on the Belgorod fuel depot, an attack on Bryansk’s fuel supplies yielded a similar explosion, and similar speculation about the cause of the fires. Larger economic effects on fossil fuel and grain production accompanies discussions about rebuilding a postwar Ukraine.
3 possible causes: Russian arson, Russian false flag, Ukrainian operation. Other possible options? Here is what we know so far ... 2/
There have been 3 RECENT fires already, as follows: 1) Air-Space Defense Research Institute in Tver, 180km NW of Moscow; 2) Dmitrievsky chemical plant in the city of Kineshma, 950km from Ukraine; 3) Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia in, well, Korolev, Russia. 3/
Russian oligarchs are dying, some within 24 hours of each other. Why are they suddenly committing suicide? 4/
Before the Bryansk attack, there were at least two posts suggesting something was about to happen. This is one talks about Ukrainian wrecks being transported to, among other places, Bryansk for ... 5/
And then from a Facebook posts several days ago, we have a heads-up from a journalist about Russian military evacuating their loved ones away from Bryansk, had to be "carefully hidden", done on the down-low. The post is still available. 6/ facebook.com/10000069841648…
Now it seems to have been well known that Bryansk is where Russian armor is being refurbished, and this could be the Ukrainian target. That may be so, but what is burning is apparently not armor, but oil facilities. Surely Bryansk's oil industry was known long ago, but why now? 7/
So we have 3 possibilities: Ukraine did it, Russia did it-false flag, Russia-sabotage, or... accident (again). Bryansk is between 100 to less than 150km away from Ukrainian border. Artillery can't reach it... but ... 8/
... a modified Totchka-U could reach 120km, so just at the edge of its range. Russia has already once before blamed Ukraine for firing a Totchka-U missile.
Assuming it was a UKR operation and we are trying to figure out what means they have, would it be plausible with their Mi-24s? It has a range of 450km, so it could maybe do that long roundtrip. Would Russian air defense allow it though? Well, Belgorod
There are other options for UKR, aircraft! Jets, TB2 UCAV, maybe loitering munition. But 2 questions: 1) Russian air defense that easily penetrated? And, 2) Why would a UKR journalist let the cat out of the bag days before a UKR operation? Wouldn't they want to keep surprise? 11/
If not a UKR operation, could it be a Russian false flag? It would not out of character (eg. Shelling of Mainila). And guess what, there has been something along these lines reported before, Klimovo, which is, guess what, in Bryansk Oblast!
Others have opined that it couldn't possibly be a false flag, the damage is too severe for a casus belli. One can generate enough sympathy with a strike that does not reduce war fighting capacity while inducing widespread hysteria: like striking a quiet hamlet would. 13/
So, we know there have been at least 3 seriously damaging fires before, too far for it to be linked to Ukraine. We also know a UKR journalist let the cat out of the bag days ago (re Russia military evacuations). So, while possible, perhaps improbable this is a UKR operation. 14/
Due to the extent of the damages and the possible severity of the consequences, many find it hard to believe this is a false flag. Could all the 3 fires, plus this Bryansk attack, if they're linked in some form, be sabotage? 15/
Sabotage is an interesting hypothesis, with very interesting possible consequences. Is there a link between these fires and the Bryant attacks with the oligarch deaths? 16/
If sabotage, do we have enough grounds to speculate that there is a coordinated insurgency now going on inside Russia? What are the implications of this line of thinking? What a lovely mystery! 17/
One last option, another accident! We have a quote that goes like this: One is an accident, two a coincidence, but three...? Russia news agency has acknowledged the Bryansk fire, but only silence about the cause. 18/
What else do we know? We have the geolocation, and initial description of the target (oil depot, oil refinery). 19/
There are multiple fires, and many video feeds. This one seems particularly close, you can see various above ground tanks. 20/
There are reports that the damage may not be limited to military implications, it may have wider economic and energy security implications. Do we know that the Druzhba pipeline operations remain unharmed? The Druzhba pipeline can be important to Europe.21/
This video reportedly in Bryansk. This video suggests a missile strike. 22/
What else is going on in Bryansk? This attack on the railroad. 23/
A closer look at the broken rail. Accident? 24/
So, circling back to the start, Ukraine? False flag? Or sabotage? A combination? I'll close with this tweet from Igor. His take? Sabotage! If he is right, we should have a thread on what this means for Russia and for Ukraine. 25/end
If you're curious on the overall status of the #UkraineWar, with a focus on the situation inside #Ukraine, I have a short thread that provides an overview of where things stand for now. It has maps!
I wanted to add another hypothesis. A Russian source on Telegram recently reported that FSB arrested some members of a pro-Ukraine "neo-nazi" organization operating in Russia. Even if we discount that the FSB achieved anything, it does indicate that...
... there is at least one pro-Kyiv organization operating inside Russia (that is targeted by Moscow). This is interesting! If there is sabotage going on in Russia, we now have two possible sources: discontented Russians on the verge of rebellion or pro-Kyiv organized group(s).
• • •
About 15,000 Russian military personnel have been killed since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the British defense secretary, Ben Wallace, told the House of Commons on Monday.
The estimate, based on the British Defense Ministry’s assessments, is on the higher end of the 7,000 to 15,000 range that NATO officials estimated a month ago, but is lower than what the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on Monday: About 21,900 Russian deaths.
The British Defense Ministry also estimates that Russia has lost more than 2,000 armored vehicles — including at least 530 tanks — as well as over 60 helicopters and fighter jets since the start of the war, Mr. Wallace said.
It has been common during the war for Ukrainian estimates of Russian losses to skew high and for Russian estimates to skew low. But the British estimate of Russian deaths is roughly 11 times higher than what Russia last claimed, underscoring just how much the human cost of President Vladimir V. Putin’s war diverges from what Russians have been told.
Russia reported 1,351 total military deaths on March 25 and has not officially updated the toll since. Even a month ago, that figure was already seen by the West and Ukraine as a severe undercount.
In April, when a Kremlin spokesman acknowledged “significant losses of troops,” he did not provide an updated death toll. In theory, the Russian public could never receive one; Mr. Putin decreed in 2015 that military casualties could be classified as military secrets, even during peacetime.
If there will be no instant abandonment of Russian oil and gas, then the average annual price of Russian Urals oil, taking into account the discount and the reduction in physical volumes of exports, will be $70–75 per barrel. 2/8
It will allow the Kremlin to finance all expenses without problems for at least 1.5–2 years, including the conduct of hostilities by the Russian Army in Ukraine and the indexation of social benefits. 3/8
As long as Russia has the ability to sell oil and gas, it will have enough resources to keep the economy afloat. Russia in Apr this year increased oil supplies by tankers to Europe to 1.6 million barrels per day, compared with 1.3 million barrels per day in Mar, WSJ writes. 4/8
The Russian budget is also in good shape: the surplus for 2021 amounted to more than 500 billion rubles or 0.4% of GDP. The budget for 2022 was drawn up based on the Urals price of $44.2 per barrel and the average exchange rate of 72.1 rubles/$. 5/8
Russia can also afford a small actual federal budget deficit. The Ministry of Finance can cover it, including through the use of funds from the National Welfare Fund. 6/8
Even when we exclude borrowing, Russia's reserves amount to 6-7% of GDP - an amount quite sufficient to support an increased military budget and cushion the fall in other spending for at least two years. 7/8
Analysts note that the negative effect of the refusal of foreign businesses to work on the Russian market in terms of scale may even exceed the effect of direct sanctions which were already imposed.
More details: thebell.io/dva-mesyatsa-v… 8/8
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If you need to work out why some on the left are “on Putin’s side” you might want to read this: covertactionmagazine.com/… It explains the issue of denazification and Ukrainian national sovereignty however misread by Lenin, Luxemburg, and Putin.