Ukraine update: The view from inside Russia’s war effort is the same as what we see outside

Let’s start with his take on Russian war propaganda. 

Those who read my [Telegram] channel could already notice that a terrible thing happened to me recently – I watched Russian TV …

The finale of the news release generally made me doubt that I was watching Russian TV. The weather forecast included a story, typically Ukrainian in essence and presentation, that in Ukraine, the weather is kind of terrible – solid ice, in Dnepropetrovsk so many buses have crashed due to ice. Most of the rest of the time was devoted to rituals about the fact that not only Ukraine, but finally the whole of Europe will freeze this winter.

“The burghers are alarmed,” the announcer said, completing the “forecast”, “by the fact that black smoke poured out of the pipes of German thermal power plants!”

Apparently, it was such a special test moment to see how everything in the viewer’s head has calibrated, because along these words they showed ordinary white steam coming from these same pipes. “If you see white smoke, watch the news again in an hour and repeat until the smoke turns black” or something like that.

We’ve laughed at how clumsy Russian propaganda can be, and here is one of their own pointing to how ridiculous it all is. It’s like Fox News and conservatives: People prefer to be told everything is okay, even if their eyes reveal the truth of the situation. 

This is also a reminder that Russia, unable to win on the battlefield, has really invested a great deal into making winter as miserable as possible for not just Ukrainians, but for their European allies. Direct attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure have certainly made Ukraine’s life more difficult, but Europe is getting along just fine without Russian petroleum or natural gas. No matter how much Russian propaganda might claim otherwise, fact is that Russian oil exports have collapsed and Europe is opening up liquified natural gas terminals at breakneck speed, making Russian gas obsolete. As a result, this has been happening: 

All the smoke and mirrors used to prop up the ruble and the Russian economy are less effective by the day. 

But back to Murz. Next up is his analysis of how Russia is destroying its tanks by using them as long-range indirect fire (in other words, like artillery). When he talks about tanks firing from “closed positions,” he means well in the rear as opposed to maneuvering at the vanguard of an attack. 

Separate fierce f—k-up are the constantly popping up videos from the 1st Army Corps of the DPR showing firing from tanks from closed positions, practiced on a regular basis. The horror here, of course, is not that tanks shoot from closed positions, they can do it, a good tankman should be able to do it … The horror is that with the silent catastrophic lack of shells in artillery (you can’t talk about it, because then someone will have to answer for it, but no one wants to), it was decided to replace artillery with tanks on a regular basis …

In reality, such shooting is an emergency temporary measure in a situation where it is necessary to cover a large concentration of the enemy, and there is no free artillery at hand or it is impossible to use it because of the operational counter-battery fire, to which the tank, due to thick armor, is much less susceptible than self-propelled artillery guns and, especially, the towed guns in which the crew and ammunition load are not covered at all. Smooth-bore tank guns are not designed for what they are now doing all day long: continuously bombarding enemy positions with high-explosive fragmentation shells.

There’s a great deal of debate about whether Russia is running out of artillery shells. Indeed, Bakhmut’s defenders have noted a significant decrease in the intensity of the Russian barrages. Some speculate that Russia is hoarding ammo for a major new offensive. Others say that supplies are dwindling. Yet others say that it’s just Russia moving pieces across the battlefield, or that Russia is using this time to do maintenance on their guns, like replacing barrels. 

Here Murz is saying that at least in the Donbas, Russian forces are so low on artillery shells that they’ve replaced them with tank shelling. The problem is those tanks aren’t designed to fire this much, with projectiles hurtled at far higher speeds (to pierce enemy armor) than artillery shells. That can work as a short-term Band-Aid, but it knocks those tanks out of commission when they actually, you know, need tanks. Maybe that’s why those Wagner troops are assaulting Ukrainian defensive positions around Bakhmut without any armor support. 

Next up, Murz talks about how Ukraine is “duping” Russia into wasting lives around Donetsk city.

This duping is straightforward. Since the Armed Forces of Ukraine don’t give a s—t about the fate of civilians in Doncek, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are hitting the city with multiple rocket launchers. All the preparations for firing can be done in advance, the BM-21 installation eventually rolls out to the point literally for a couple of minutes, the actual package of 40 missiles leaves the rails in less than a minute … In the end, a “counter-battery fire” against such missile terror by searching for and destroying systems with our current resources will give almost nothing. And that’s exactly what the enemy is counting on. He is counting on the fact that politicians, having seen enough of burning city blocks, will put pressure on the military – “Drive the ukrops away from the city!” And the 1st Armed Corps will continue to kill the remnants of their infantry at the Ukrainian fortified areas around Donetsk.

While Ukraine undoubtedly strikes infrastructure targets inside Donetsk city, this is what it looks like today: 

The city has power, which could easily be cut as it’s well within range of Ukrainian artillery. Yet when it is struck, it’s the rail infrastructure, it’s the gas storage, it’s the ammo dumps and troop concentrations. Ukraine doesn’t have the munitions to waste on civilian targets, nor the inclination to do so even if it wanted. This propagandist claim is a reminder that Murz is a Russian nationalist true believer. 

What is more interesting is how Murz sees Russia haplessly falling for Ukrainian traps. It is Ukraine with the battlefield initiative, not Russia, and it’s costing his home team. Not that he thinks Russia always needs to be tricked into slaughtering its own forces …

In other sectors of the front, the Russian command does not need such a goading, as it voluntarily drives to slaughter the last remnants of the infantry, no longer very combat-ready due to previous losses. The Russian military has an incredible talent for turning any village with a couple of landings and a pig farm into Verdun, on which their own, not enemy, units are ground.

What a turn of phrase! “The Russian military has an incredible talent for turning any village with a couple of landings and a pig farm into Verdun, on which their own, not enemy, units are ground.” If I ever get around to writing my book about Dovhen’ke, that sentence is making it to the jacket cover. 

Next up, he laments the poor state of Russia’s communications, or more accurately, the lack of any. It’s why we don’t see anything larger than (literally) a handful of troops assault any position at any given time. It is impossible to coordinate any such attacks without working radios.

Nothing larger than the “remnants of a motorized rifle battalion” in the RF Armed Forces can be controlled as a single organism. And, of course, in this situation, the battalion commanders and company commanders of these “remnants” become well-deserved heroes, who, if possible, drag all the s—t on their own backs. Although more often, alas, they don’t. And they are buried with their subordinates when, after half a dozen assaults, each organized worse than the previous one, we still capture another piece of land and collect their rotten remains.

From the fact that the Russian army can do nothing except for bleeding and capturing another village while surrendering a district center or an entire region on the other flank. So the Russian army made an amazing conclusion—let’s take more villages! And arranged the maximum possible Verduns along the entire front line, including the very infamous Pavlovka in the DPR. And, of course, Bakhmut. How could it be without it? Why not kill the last remnants of combat-ready infantry at it? It’s not possible at all. These f——-g bastards need to get positive news somewhere! Here, we freed another 100 meters of such and such village. And whoever is the first to report on the complete liberation of the village gets a medal.

I wrote about Pavlivka here, and about Ukraine’s defensive strategy at Bakhmut here. And I love the obvious sarcasm as he celebrates the capturing of some insignificant village as Russia loses entire regions on the other flank. You might remember how one pro-Russian Twitter account celebrated Wagner’s capture of a hill near Bakhmut, while Ukraine was at that very moment liberating almost the entirety of Kharkiv oblast. 

Next up, Murz tackles the lack of unified Russian military presence. 

Could [Russia] replenish the depleted units, in which motivated officers and sergeants, military equipment remained? They could. It was possible to eliminate that monstrous patchwork that is the RF Armed Forces, when soldiers of various military units, the National Guard, PMCs, BARS volunteers”, “Akhmads” crowd on the square of one or two kilometers? It could be. But no one did it. The enemy has been rendered a large-scale service, worthy of a military tribunal, which, of course, will not happen.

This is a topic we’ve touched on before, and merits a deep dive. There is no unified Russian command. As Russian forces were thrown back in Kharkiv oblast, Russia’s ministry of defense begged Wagner (a “PMC,” or “private military contractor”) to move forces up and help stop the Ukrainian advance. Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin (also known as “Putin’s chef”) refused, bragging that his people were the only Russians anywhere on the front advancing. He was too busy feeding prison cannon fodder into the wood chipper around Bakhmut to give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s problems. He certainly doesn’t buy into any grander strategy. 

Then there’s the Rosgvardia—Putin’s private national guard—because god forbid the regular army get too big and dangerous and threaten Putin’s rule. They are traditionally used to suppress civilian uprisings in Russia, and in Ukraine they’ve mostly been seen around Kherson. Now, presumably they’re in Melitopol, Mariupol, and other occupied cities. 

BARS are volunteer battalions of mobilized former military veterans. They’re the ones holding the line around Kreminna and Svatove, and by many indications are relatively competent. “Akhmad” I assume is a racist reference to Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechen militias. After featuring heavily on TikTok early in the war, they seem to have mostly disappeared. Rumors are they are “barrier” troops, shooting any retreating Russian prisoners or mobilized fodder, but I’m not sure I buy it. Given we last truly saw them in Kherson, I suspect they’re also part of Russia’s defenses in Zaporizhzhia oblast, on the approaches to Tokmak, Melitopol, and Berdyansk. Kadyrov has been hot and cold on Russia’s Ministry of Defense, and seems to help when he feels like it or it’s in his interest. 

At the start of the war, there wasn’t even a unified commander, with each axis of attack commanded by one of Russia’s military districts. As such, they all fought for resources, attention, and glory. That seems to have been solved not just by the appointment of a supreme commander (Sergey Surovikin), but by the elimination of all but one of those axes of attack. And yet still, even today, Russia’s units remain fragmented. Reports of them firing on each other are common, and if Murz is correct, it’s even worse than anyone thinks. 

 Moving on …

Is it worth discussing the construction of the “Faberge Line” [Surovikin’s Line]? 

Faberge egg
Faberge egg.

This guy knows how to use words! I didn’t know Faberge, known for its delicate and breathtakingly expensive “imperial eggs” and jewelry, was a Russian company. 

Thus Murz mocks the fragility of the defensive lines Russia is building all across its captured territories. Of the white concrete pyramids that make up part of those lines, he rolls his eyes, “God forbid the tank is scratched” as it punches through. He notes that rains have washed away the foundations of defensive emplacements. Meanwhile, he notes that Russia should’ve learned from Ukraine on how to properly defend.   

It’s a shame to learn from the enemy of our army, yet in the meantime this spring and summer the enemy demonstrated in the Donbas all the necessary components of a successful long-term defense, which sipped a lot of blood of our troops. It suddenly turns out that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have problems with these issues, and all potential rudiments of improvements are destroyed at the root. I repeat once again – this level of military incompetence simply does not exist. This is deliberate sabotage, sabotage and betrayal.

Murz has made these accusations before, that Russia’s war effort is so catastrophically terrible that it can’t possibly be mere incompetence. He is convinced that treason is at the root, and that he continues to post unbothered by Russian authorities speaks to … something

Wagner’s Prigozhin and Kadyrov have both attempted to blame Russia’s Ministry of Defense for their disastrous performance, yet Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu survives, lest Putin be forced to admit mistakes. The Ministry of Defense attempted to blame Russia’s SBU security services for bad intelligence heading into Ukraine, and the rumor is that it is them who are protecting ultra-nationalist critics of the war like Murz and Girkin—they shift the focus and blame back on the armed forces. 

Next up, more on Russia’s problems with its artillery:

The next item is artillery. Normal defence is built on artillery and around artillery … No artillery – no defense. Rifle infantry will not hold the defense for a long time. The Armed Forces of Ukraine mastered their artillery for 7 years, the Russian army relaxed its artillery as best it could […] And, of course, stopping any attempts to automate the work of artillery with the help of appropriate software. “Not allowed”. We see the result. Monstrous lunar landscapes in the fields, where there is not a trace of Ukrainian fortifications. Echelons of ammunition flew away to nowhere under the approving bleat of propagandists and “experts” like Shurygin. And in the end, artillery depots near Izyum, handed over to the enemy. Well done!

We’ve seen those lunar landscapes. Here is the outskirts of Dovhen’ke: 

Ukraine war

Murz has a point. Every single one of those shells hit seedlings and crops and maybe some locusts, but … there wasn’t a single Ukrainian soldier, piece of equipment, or position anywhere out in the open like that. Ukrainians like to talk about Russia’s massive artillery advantage, but the vast majority is spray-and-pray, hitting nothing of value. Now, such volume means that eventually, something of value gets hit. Most injuries and deaths in this war come from artillery, not bullet wounds, and Ukraine has lost as many as 50,000 soldiers this war thus far. So none of this is meant to minimize the damage from Russian artillery. But just imagine, what if they were actually good at their craft? 

The result at the moment (which the Russian media and biased bloggers are diligently trying to cover up) … is a monstrous shell hunger in artillery. Air strikes from afar with unguided 80-mm rockets from a pitch-up (because if you fly closer, they will shoot you down) only tickles a well-entrenched enemy, although it can look very impressive. Pew pew pew! Hooray! What a shot! And when the smoke settled – another plowed field.

“Pew pew pew hurray!” I’m dying. This guy is funny! “Shell hunger” is the direct translation of “ammunition shortage.” He keeps coming back to this, saying they’re running out. 

And you know how Ukrainians have had great success using drones to drop grenades on Russian soldiers? Murz mocks Russian attempts to copy that strategy. 

On our side, the stupid morons who wasted the ammo on plowing the fields decided to replace the six-inch projectiles with VOGs [greandes] dropped from copters. With the motivation “Well, hohols do it!”

But you f——-g can’t … Because hohols have learned over the years how to properly terrorize our motherf——-s with these grenade drops. They have tactics, they have a system for applying it. Starting with a competent choice of a site that is optimal for dumping terror, identifying convenient targets and ending with a concentration of forces – when 4-6 copters arrange a “carousel” over some unit for several hours, bombarding it with these VOGs or makeshift bombs. And you f——-s just order the “Mavics”, for which the people have scraped together the money, hoping that they will conduct reconnaissance and adjust artillery. No, let’s bomb. Immediately! Tomorrow! And people run to carry out your f——-g order, headlong, without really working out either tactics or reconnaissance of targets. And they are trying to intimidate the army of moles with 30-mm little s—-s dropped from copters. And hohols jam these “Mavics” and shoot them down for their own pleasure, because they are NOT RETARDS, THEY ARE LEARNING. And the artillery remains not only with meager ammo but also without eyes.

“Hohol” is the Russian slur for Ukrainian. Aside from multiple hateful slurs (because he is Russian after all), this is hilarious. Russian artillery desperately lacks eyes on the enemy. Well-meaning supporters crowdsource drones for these units, but instead of using them to adjust artillery fire, they want to do cool grenade drops just like their enemy does. But since they don’t know how to do it, they’ve just wasted that precious drone their families and supporters scrimped to buy. 

I’m going to wrap up with his view on Russian infantry, even though his screed goes on and on. 

By grinding down the remnants of the infantry in mini-Verduns along the entire front, the Russian command renders an invaluable service to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which in the spring and summer showed how important it is to have a reserve of at least somewhat prepared infantry, which can fill more and more hastily built lines instead of those taken by our troops. We will not have such a supply of people for the winter offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On average, our infantry is prepared disgustingly, without even touching on tactical issues. Shooting training is a complete a— and is difficult to fix because there are neither people capable of using the tools for reconciling shooting and training people, nor the tools themselves. Almost no one knows how to use group weapons normally.

Those defensive lines look imposing, and will certainly slow down any Ukrainian offensive. But the line is only as effective as its manned infantry defenders, and mechanized (armored) reserves in the rear, ready to respond to any Ukrainian breakthrough. 

You gotta love Russian corruption. But Murz doesn’t just criticize the workmanship of the defensive emplacements, but stresses the importance of trained defenders in those trenches. He’s totally right. 

I was an artilleryman, fire direction for MLRS. My infantry knowledge is rudimentary at best. My son is an army infantryman, and I’ve paid attention to his training. Something as simple as preparing a defensive emplacement for a squad or platoon is a complex formula of firing points and logistical considerations. Here, go to page 5-30 of the Ranger handbook, which informs U.S. infantry skills, and check out the complexity of setting up a simple temporary perimeter defense. Every American officer learns this procedure, and every American NCO is drilled on it so that they can do it in their sleep. An effective fighting force learns these skills. NATO armies learn it. Russia never did.  

At the same time, Ukraine has mastered the art of defense. Their “flexible defense” moves back and forth between layered trenches depending on the tactical situation. No reason to sit in forward positions under Russian artillery. They’re happy to retreat, allow Russian infantry to advance, then hit them as they extend past their protected positions, with stretched supply lines. Once the Russian advance is dealt with, Ukraine can return to their forward positions, ebbing and flowing like the tides. We’ve seen it time and time again this war, currently at Bakhmut. 

Now imagine a mobilized Russian, with zero leadership or training, thrown into a trench and told to hold the line. Yes, he’ll be a speed bump that will need to be dealt with by any advancing Ukrainian force, but that’s about it. 

Anyway, that was fun. The biggest takeaway? Murz didn’t say much we didn’t already know. It means that we’re not blinded by hopium and copium, but have a true, honest, and clear picture of Russia’s rank difficulties. 

As for Murz, last I checked, his Livejournal had been taken down by Russia. So who knows, maybe he’s not so protected after all. 



Looked up that law, it’s Russian.

The original post can be found on Reason

What do you think?