300,000+ Russian coffins for an empire
Category: News & PoliticsBy: kavika • one month ago • 68 comments
Like President Lincoln’s search for a general to defeat the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, Russian President Vladimir Putin is searching for his Ulysses S. Grant — a general who can bring him a victory, any victory, on the battlefield. Lincoln needed a general who would fight. Putin, under fire in Moscow, needs one who can finally find a way to win on the battlefields of Ukraine, regardless of the cost. Wooden coffins are cheap in Putin’s Russia; mobile crematoriums are cheaper. Russian conscripts to fill them are the cost of doing business.
Gen. Sergei “Armageddon” Surovikin is Putin’slatest choiceto put those coffins to use. Promoted to head the Russian Army in Ukraine, the new general is eagerly embracing the use of “total war” tactics and is openly and brazenly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, including in central Kyiv, usingcruise missilesandkamikaze Iranian drones. Cover stories accusing Ukraine of bombing itself are a thing of the past. Putin’s army is overtly committing war crimes in full view — and in acquiescence to the talk show hosts, military bloggers and nationalists calling for a “scorched earth” policy in Ukraine.
Replacing one war criminal — in this case, Gen. Alexander Dvornikov, aka “the Butcher of Syria” — with another isn’t likely to change the outcome in Ukraine. It is yet another desperate attempt to achieve any semblance of success in Russia’s failed “special military operation.”
Both generals are said to be ruthless, but soldiers fight wars, not generals, and the willingness of the Russian soldiers in Ukraine and those being mobilized to continue the fight from Russia’s impoverished minority populations, is lacking and extracting a cost on the Russian psyche. Protests, mass defections across neighboring borders, open criticism in the Russian media, and violence at mobilization stations and training bases are Putin’s new normal.
More than700,000 Russiansreportedly have fled the country since Putin’s “partial mobilization” announcement, a tally that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov adamantly rejects. Those who answered the call — or were shanghaied — found themselves on thefront lines within 10 days; woefully unprepared, many are returning to Russia in coffins and body bags. They werebarely trained or equipped; rather, expeditiously rounded up, processed, put into uniforms, issued weapons, and sent to the front lines — feeding Putin’s wood chipper to try to buy time for a retreating Russian army.
Reports of violence at mobilization stations and pre-deployment training centers reinforce the unwillingness of Russian citizens to fight and die in a war many neither understand nor support. In the Irkutsk region of Siberia, a man shot andkilled a recruitment officerafter a “pep talk” to avoid being drafted and sent to Ukraine. In the Belgorod region of southwestern Russia,11 soldiers were killed and 15 woundedin a “green-on-green” incident when two soldiers turned their weapons on them during a pre-deployment training event.
The Russian military has proven itself inept in military operational art and combined arms warfare. At the onset of the war, they had all the pieces — soldiers, advanced weaponry, technology — but demonstrated an inability to fight as a combined-arms army, or an ability to sustain it, much to the astonishment of many military analysts, including retired Lt. Gen.Ben Hodges, former commander, U.S. Army Europe. What they didn’t have were the soldiers, noncommissioned officers and junior officers who could execute the plan.
Eight months into the war, after two failed major offensives, humiliating defeats to Ukrainian counteroffensives, and personnel losses exceeding U.S. losses for the entire Vietnam War, Russia once again returned to the basics: artillery, ballistic missiles, and air and drones strike to punish unarmed Ukrainian citizens. Putin has found a soulless general who evidently will heed the advice of nationalist TV talk show hosts andcarpet-bomb Ukraine until it is paralyzed.
It’s no longer a “special miliary operation” or a war to liberate the oppressed Russian-speaking people from their so-called Ukrainian Nazi overlords, as Putin first presented it. It has become personal — or maybe it always was for Putin. Surovikin’s orders are to hold as much terrain as possible and inflict great damage to the Ukrainian capital and other population centers, along with Ukraine’s power grid and infrastructure.
To replenish his munitions stockpiles, Putin has acquired weapons and ammunition from his “arsenals of evil” — Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones and Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missilesfrom Iran, and ammunition from North Korea. Surovikin isrelentlesslytargeting Kyiv and other soft targets. Civilian targets are intended to invoke fear but serve only to harden Ukrainian resiliency. It’s a lesson the Kremlin has yet to learn.
Not content with only Russian coffins, Putin is adding Belarusian coffins to the fray. He continues to lean on his Belarusian partner, President Alexander Lukashenko, to open a possible joint Belarus-Russian second front in the north to threaten Kyiv again. To date, it’s been more of a military demonstration to hold Ukrainian forces in the north; however, the rhetoric intensified on Oct. 10 whenLukashenko proclaimed, “Strikes on the territory of Belarus are not just being discussed in Ukraine today but are also being planned. Their owners are pushing them to start a war against Belarus to drag us there.” There is no evidence to support his claim; his statement may be a prelude to another false flag operation.
To withstand this strategy, NATO and the United States must provide Ukraine the air defense assets they have requested. NATO and the U.S. also must lift any restrictions placed on Ukraine for striking Russian targets beyond the Ukraine’s borders and provide them the extended-range munitions and intelligence they need to target the ballistic missile, drone and air launch points. There can be no sanctuary for weapon systems fired from Russia or Belarus. When fired, they become legitimate targets.
While the deep fight is being waged, the close fight — the counteroffensive — must continue. The relentless pursuit of Russian soldiers being driven out of the country, surrendering or defecting must be documented and uploaded to social media platforms such as Tik Tok, Telegram and Snapchat for Russian citizens to observe firsthand. The resistance is real.
Putin apparently is willing to fill 300,000+ coffins for a Kievan Rus’ empire. Timber, after all, is plentiful in Russia. Ukraine, NATO and the European Union must take decisive action to ensure that Russian lumberjacks stay busy this winter. It is the surest and fastest way to end this war — and to put Putin and his coffin makers out of business.
Jonathan Sweet, a retired Army colonel, served 30 years as a military intelligence officer. His background includes tours of duty with the 101st Airborne Division and the Intelligence and Security Command. He led the U.S. European Command Intelligence Engagement Division from 2012-14, working with NATO partners in the Baltic.