In a country where safety regulations are laughable, construction standards are worse, and drunkenness is a way of life, it’s always possible that someone just happened to think stashing a few tons of low explosive in the local Walmart was a grand idea. But while this may look like some of the gas explosions on TV shows, that’s only because those explosions are … planned explosions.
Considering just how many things really have gone boom around Russia lately with the prodding of old Soviet surveillance drones turned into missiles by Ukrainian engineering, it’s understandable that people around Moscow might be starting to look up the nearest bomb shelter. However, the explosion seen is a lot more than might be generated by a few kilograms of even high explosive strapped to a drone.
It will be interesting to hear what Moscow finally concocts as the cause, but it probably won’t have much to do with the real cause. In the meantime, if some portion of Russian citizens think this is the long arm of Ukraine reaching out, that’s probably a good thing. And if Ukraine, or Ukrainian partisans, or Russians tired of being sent to die in Ukraine, actually did this … whoo boy, the folks down the street at the Kremlin should really be sweating.
For the moment, the fire still seems to be raging. Since the explosion took place at a retail site during the early morning hours, there have been few reports of casualties.
Speaking of explosions deep in Russian-occupied territory, there are reports on Friday of additional explosions at Berdyansk airport. This follows a series of such explosions on Thursday and comes close on the heels of multiple airports in Russia being hit by Ukrainian drones.
No word yet on any potential damage. I’m looking for recent high-resolution satellite images in the area to get a better idea of what’s been positioned there, but Berdyansk is one of the locations that had been connected to drone and aircraft-carried missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.
Over the last day, the situation in Bakhmut has gotten much more tense. While hearing that Russia has taken the city dump and this or that factory may seem laughable—and is, considering how many times they’ve taken and lost the same sites before—forces on the ground indicate that this time is different. Russian forces appear to have secured defensive positions along the edge of Bakhmut that they were only able to occupy briefly in the past. Ukrainian forces are being pressed back from the places where they’ve been able to hold out and direct fire over several months, and there is real concern that the long-held status quo is about to break.
Earlier this week, kos took a close look at Bakhmut and pointed out something that most new analysis seems to miss: The city is divided by the Bakhmutka River, beyond which the terrain rises. So even if Russia is able to force Ukraine from long-held positions in the eastern part of the city, it’s highly unlikely that the remainder of Bakhmut would fall rapidly, or at all. Ukraine should be able to reposition west of the river and force Russia to do everything all over again to capture the next few blocks.
This mini-documentary still gives the best view of the situation and Russia’s plans.
What seems to have changed in the last week mostly comes down to a mistake on Ukraine’s part. There is a good deal of dispute about the videos seen in the last few days about an attempted advance from the city, but it seems that Ukraine not only failed in an attempt to press Russian forces back, but did so in a way that left them vulnerable to a counter. In the parry-riposte that has taken place east of Bakhmut for so long, Ukraine may have made a big swing and a miss. If that’s accurate, now they’re taking a big hit in return.
However, don’t think that all this means Ukraine is likely to begin pulling out of the eastern blocks anytime soon. This is still moving on Bakhmut time.
What’s likely to happen now is that Wagner will move their HQ to the city garbage dump and attempt to advance from that position. In the meantime … their HQ will be in the city garbage dump. Too bad the weather isn’t warmer.
Speaking of attempted Ukrainian advances along the eastern border, it was only yesterday that Russian propagandists were showing videos of Ukrainian vehicles moving out of what was supposed to be Pervomaisk and getting trapped behind a minefield and taking casualties in what was reportedly a repelled attack toward the fully Russian-held town of Pisky.
Turns out the videos were actually from further north. They really showed vehicles moving between Vodyane and Opytne. These areas are close together, so close that I had to zoom way in to show the locations on the map.
What difference does it make? The difference is that Ukraine seems to have made a successful move toward Pisky. Ukraine currently controls a portion of the town, all of which is now in dispute. That attempted advance in the video still seems to have failed, but instead of representing Russia capturing new territory, it took place in an area where things didn’t change—while the real change was that Russia appears to have lost part of Pisky.
Another example of how nothing from Russian propaganda is ever what it seems, even when they appear to have visual “proof.”
This burning tire factory in Russia probably isn’t a sign of anything other than just how many things burn all the time in Russia. However, it does reportedly produce tires for use by the Russian military.
But then, that’s probably not a big deal for Russia. After all, when’s the last time you saw a new tire on a Russian military vehicle?
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