They’ll say it was all worth it: What is happening around Soledar and what is the Russian army preparing for in Belarus

11 January, 04:44 PM

We just have to be ready for it

Russia and Belarus will conduct joint flight and tactical exercises from January 16 to February 1. I think the main purpose of these exercises is to keep us tense and, simply put, to get on our nerves. They want to conduct these exercises as part of the creation of the security forces of their Union State. That's how they are justifying it. But in fact, I think that there will be danger for us with each sortie and takeoff of these planes into the air, especially if any of the aircraft are capable of carrying cruise missiles like the Kinzhal. Or maybe Tu-22M3s aircraft will be involved, which are strategic bombers that can carry X-22 type missiles. The threat exists, in my opinion, all the same: of the use of ground forces, and of the use of aviation.

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There is no guarantee that tomorrow the Russian Iskander brigade, which is scattered almost along our entire border, will not launch rockets deep into our territory, at a distance of up to 500 kilometers. There is no guarantee that a MiG-31 taking off will not launch a Kinzhal missile. We just have to be ready for it. And when this equipment starts to move, we declare an air alert.

I would not, however, say that aviation is more of a threat than ground forces. I would say that there is a general threat of the use of Russian troops from the territory and from the airspace of the Republic of Belarus.

Our anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses are no match for the Kinzhal missile. Although we have the NASAMS and IRIS-T complexes, which can take on missiles (including ballistic ones), their chances against Kinzhals are very low. But with the appearance of the Patriot missile system, the probability of shooting down or protecting against Kinzhal supersonic ballistic missiles will increase. Today, however, we don’t have anything to fight back with. 

The situation near Soledar is very difficult. There is already official information from the Eastern Operational Command that the commanders on the ground have been given the appropriate reserves and the necessary means to strengthen the defense of our troops. The General Staff is really helping and trying to strengthen our defenses in these cities as much as possible. Indeed, they have no operational significance. Moreover, a new line of defense is already ready outside the city of Bakhmut, which also has a natural obstacle in its composition – the Donetsk Canal. And we can simply retreat to this border and take up defense there.

However, in my opinion, the situation here is more political than military. The Russian Federation wants to get at least some sort of win in order to raise the fighting spirit of its army and patriotic sentiments in Russian society, and to encourage the population to further participate in the war against Ukraine. It is very important for us to not allow them to do this, in order to keep down the Russian army and Russian society as much as possible, and to make them understand that they are no longer capable of conducting offensive operations today.

Even if one settlement is taken by Russian troops, they will say that it has made it all worth it. They will present it as another capture of Berlin and will justify all losses, both in equipment and in personnel, with it. They will say, "we are fighting as our grandfathers fought. They were dying – and we are dying, but we are winning." That is why, in my opinion, they cannot be allowed to have this opportunity.

People from the Special Operations Forces have talked about how the Russians could blow up the dam of the Svativ Reservoir, in order to slow down the Ukrainian advance in northern Luhansk Oblast. A rupture of the dam would simply postpone the measures that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are trying to take there now by a few days. The reservoir there is not very big, and the rise in water levels would take a few days. In five days at most, it would go back down. And if you take into account the frosts... Every day the amount of water that can be released as a result of blowing the dam is decreasing because the reservoir is freezing, and the water that will spill will also freeze or freeze on the surface of the earth.

Therefore, I think that this would simply cause a delay for the Ukrainians – they would wait until the water passes, and then get back to the fight.

The strategic importance of the Kinburn spit is the entrance to the Dnieper estuary. Whoever owns the spit will control all shipping from the Black Sea to the Dnipro and from the Dnipro to the Black Sea. Therefore, it is very important, on the one hand. The Russians have an advantage in that they can get there by land, whereas we have to cross the Dnipro estuary or the Dnipro River, which poses a problem for us. But we can consider the first stage of the operation successful. Why? Today, there is no permanent garrison of Russian troops there, and no Russian artillery positions. They can carry out actions there with their special forces, which, by the way, we do all the time. Thus, the fight going on there now is a battle between special forces. But it is very important that the Russians not be able to keep a permanent garrison there or maintain permanent control.

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In the first week of this year 2023, we have had a lot of good news from our partners. The United States will provide us with Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. From Germany, it seems we are finally getting the Marder IFVs. France promised us wheeled tanks. Greece is ready to give up the Marder IFVs they ordered, to Ukraine. But the crisis in the way our Western partners think about arms for Ukraine passed a little earlier. In the fall, I said that the stakes were set, and that there wouldn’t be any more. Everyone has already decided who is on which side of the barricade. And now they understand that having chosen our side of the barricade, having chosen the side of light, it is necessary not just to support Ukraine with slogans, but to provide specific weapons that will contribute to Ukraine achieving its objectives in this war. Now they are our partners who depend on the outcome of this war. And therefore, this direct dependence on how this war turns out prompts them not just to change their understanding of this situation, but also to take specific actions — no longer just isolated ones, but large-scale actions.

A ranking of the world's armies was published by analysts at Global Firepower. Ukraine has increased its rating to 15th place. The Russian military, however, remains in second place. Why? Because their method is calculated that way. They account for a country’s number of nuclear warheads, and the nuclear arsenal of the Russian Federation has not changed. Their nuclear triad has remained, continues to exist, and has not decreased. Combat experience is also taken into account there. It does not count whether the country loses a war or not. The main thing is that it participates, and its troops have combat experience.

Such basic criteria, according to their methodology, leaves Russia in second place in terms of the condition, number, and combat experience of their armed forces. And in our country, the deployment of our military, the beginning of rearmament on Western models, and the military’s new combat experience caused us to rise 7 positions in the ratings.

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