Putin’s War, Week 118.


Week 118 may end up being one of the turning points in this war. It was the week that Jake Sullivan’s gutless, too clever by half “don’t make Putin mad” strategy was finally curbstomped by allies who just couldn’t take the pictures of dead Ukrainian kids anymore. Read the whole story at Biden Reverses Course and Permits Limited Ukrainian Strikes Inside of Russia Using American Weapons.


The trend toward depriving Russia of its frozen assets continues to move forward. The G7 finance ministers agreed to use the income from Russian assets to pay interest on reconstruction bonds for Ukraine. 

We also see some unlikely countries stepping up and doing the right thing. Sweden was one of the first nations to give Ukraine permission to use Swedish weapons against Russian targets in Russia. France is about to deploy military trainers inside of Ukraine.

Here are some of my past updates.

Putin’s War, Week 117. Jake Sullivan Under Fire, ATACMS Everywhere, and the Stalemate Continues 

Putin’s War, Week 116. Russian Offensive Stalls, Ukraine Discovers Wild Weasel, and Blinken Plays Guitar

Putin’s War, Week 115. ATACMS Makes a Splash and Russia Opens a New Front

For all my Ukraine War coverage, click here.

Politico-Strategic Level

Ukraine Begins EU Accession

The German government says Ukraine has met all the requirements for starting EU accession talks.

So, what are those accession criteria?

  • political criteria: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • economic criteria: a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces;
  • administrative and institutional capacity to effectively implement the acquis* and ability to take on the obligations of membership.

The next time you see someone in the comments bleating about corruption and, dictatorship and suppression of religious liberty in Ukraine, just keep in mind they are repeating Russian talking points. The question is, why are they doing it?

France to Send Military Trainers to Ukraine

This will be the first time a NATO nation has dispatched a training mission to Ukraine since the Russian invasion.


Ukrainian Civilians Targeted…Again

Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine are a daily happening. The Russians do not even attempt to disguise what they are doing. Last weekend, the Russians hit a Ukrainian equivalent of Home Depot with glide bombs. What made this attack significant was that the bombs were released over Russia, and under the current rule set, Ukraine couldn’t use Western antiaircraft missiles to engage the Russian aircraft. This single event probably changed the politics of the discussion in European capitals and DC about allowing Urkaine to attack targets in Russia. 

G7 Finance Ministers Agree to Target Russian Assets

The G7 finance ministers have agreed to issue reconstruction bonds on Ukraine’s behalf and use the income from frozen Russian assets to guarantee interest payments.


Senate Panel Votes to Sic the Repo Man on Frozen Russian Assets 

The West Will Make Russia Pay to Rebuild Ukraine and This Is How That Will Happen 

Sad Faces in the Kremlin As the House Sends Ukraine Aid Package to Almost Certain Senate Approval 

EU Will Use Frozen Russian Assets to Fund Ukraine’s Defense and Russia Retaliates – RedState

Putin’s War, Week 117. Jake Sullivan Under Fire, ATACMS Everywhere, and the Stalemate Continues – RedState

Closing the West to Russia as a place to park assets is going to have an enormous impact downstream on the lives of the Russian oligarchy.

What to do with Popov?

I posted on the arrest and detention of Major General Ivan Popov on charges of corruption last week.

BACKGROUND: The Purge of Russia’s Defense Ministry Spreads – RedState

Virtually no one believes Popov is corrupt, but everyone knows that he’s what passes for a soldier’s soldier in the armed thuggery that is the Russian Army, and he’s a fierce critic of the current Defense establishment. 

This is interesting theater, but the loyalty of Popov’s troops has probably sealed his death warrant. Popov has become a problem, and in the words of Uncle Joe Stalin, “No man, no problem.”


Child Theft Continues

For the entire course of the war, Russia has been deporting Ukrainian children and adopting them to Russian families. According to Russian Presidential Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, over 700,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia and are in the process of being adopted.

BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 91. Mud and Snow Beats Fire and Steel, and Tumbleweeds Are Blowing Through Sevastopol – RedState

The process is continuing this summer under the guise of sending kids to Russia to become alcoholics and get AIDS, I mean, for summer camp.

This is a war crime.

Prisoner Exchanges Resume

Prisoner exchanges have been on hiatus for a few months. This one involved 70 men and five women, some captured in the first couple of months of the war.

Operational Level


As I pointed out last week, the Russian offensive at Kharkiv has run its course without the Russians reaching the main Ukrainian defensive line. That said, it can’t be ruled a failure because it did accomplish its purpose of pulling uncommitted Ukrainian Army units from other areas to stop the attack. Those units are now tied down defending static lines, and they are unavailable to relieve other units from front-line duties.

Overall, the front lines are stable but always stable up until they aren’t. The situation in the area west of Avdiivka, in particular, seems to have the potential to go south for the Ukrainians with no notice.

There are rumors that Russia is planning another of these mini invasions west of the current one. If true, it will be much harder to execute because, this time, the Ukrainians will be able to attack Russian troops and equipment in assembly areas rather than having to wait for it to cross the border.

Ukraine launched several attacks on targets using drones and ATACMS. The mystery I can’t unravel is why Ukraine is leaving the electrical transformers for Russia’s railways untouched unless this is another of Jake Sullivan’s attempts to mollify Putin.

On the whole, I think President Zelensky traded up with the relief of General Valerii Zaluzhny and his replacement by General Oleksandr Syrskyi. It’s no secret that I believe Syrskyi’s policy of abandoning indefensible territory to save lives is a good one. He is also in the process of a major reorganization of the Ukrainian Army. As many as 60% of staff officers on the General Staff will be sent to combat units. This will reduce the size of headquarters and, paradoxically, ensure that more gets done faster. It will improve the perception of equality in the officer corps. The officers going to combat units will bring staff experience with them and enhance the capabilities of those units because, I have to tell you, for all that I’ve admired the courage and initiative of Ukrainian soldiers, what I’ve seen of the staff work that supports them says that it sucks. Syrskyi is also on the cusp of creating a drone command to manage the acquisition and tactical use of unmanned systems and the training of the operators.


New Weapons

ASC 890 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft

Sweden will donate two ASC 890 AEW&C aircraft to Ukraine, according to the aid package announced Wednesday. This will be a game-changer like no other weapon system has been. It will provide early warning of Russian air and missile attacks, and it will serve as an aerial command post to coordinate Ukrainian aircraft against those threats.


Combat Operations

Drone vs Drone

This video is of a Russian FPV drone attacking a Ukrainian USV of the type that has wreaked havoc on the Black Sea Fleet. The Russian sources tell us the USV was destroyed, but no video evidence substantiates that claim. 

Destruction of an SA-13 “Gopher” Surface-to-Air Missile Launcher

The SA-13 is a short-range air defense system. This one unsuccessfully engages a reconnaissance drone (0:03) and is hit by an FPV (0:23). The onboard ammunition cooks off, guaranteeing a K-kill.

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

…the Least Preferred Technique

I try to use this section to showcase just how poorly trained most of the units fighting in Ukraine are. When you have relatively high attrition rates and replacements arriving with zero military skills, units are not capable of organizational learning. They don’t gain experience but are perpetually stuck with essentially no experience.

Here a Russian unit is advanicing through a lightly forested area. I’m guessing this is somewhere behind the front lines because the point man is nonchalantly holding his weapon… in fact, he seems to be holding it by the sling. At 0:05, he hits a landmine. I have to give the guy credit for pain tolerance, but his career as a ballroom dancer is over. An aid team is dispatched, arriving at 6:11. You can tell by the facial expression of one of the stretcher bearers that he, if no one else, is aware that antipersonnel mines are rarely used as singletons. And, no sh**, at 6:22, one of the stretcher bearers hits a mine. He doesn’t handle pain as well as the first guy.

Situational Awareness

A Russian squad gets disoriented on its way to its objective in southern Donetsk. When it dismounts, it attacks a dug-in Russian position. Hilarity ensues as this “red on red” contact produces casualties.


Easy Rider

I’ve posted a few times about the misadventures of Russia’s motorcycle assault teams. The idea is that on a motorcycle, you can cross no man’s land faster and with less vulnerability to fire than on foot. 


Putin’s War, Week 112. Ukraine Funding Passes and ATACMS Hit Crimea

Putin’s War, Week 113. US Aid Arrives Just in Time and a Russian Attack Nearly Turns Into a Breakthrough – RedState

Putin’s War, Week 115. ATACMS Makes a Splash and Russia Opens a New Front – RedState

It looks good on paper, much like the pre-WWI French staff study that proved infantry charging without taking time to shoot could overrun machinegun positions.

“The brigade commander insists particularly that it is with rifles on shoulders, bayonets fixed, and in good order, that the result will be achieved. Do not think of firing; just push on.”

Marshall, George C., editor. Infantry in Battle. 1st ed., The Infantry Journal, 1934. 

Here, a pair of motorcycles set out on an assault. The first one falls at 0:22. The second team enters the frame at 0:44. It falls at 1:06. The first motorcycle takes the lead at 1:44. The commentary is complaints about the motorcycles being underpowered.

The movement to contact continues with Team One having a “Close Encounter of the Worst Kind” at 0:13.

Crap tactics executed in craptacular fashion.

Northern Front



The Russian incursion has stabilized at a depth of no more seven miles. The center of fighing continues to be the city of Vovchansk. There has been positional movement by both sides. The Ukrainian Army has made progress on counterattacks in Vovchansk and north of Lypsi. The Russians have gained some ground near Starytsya and Hlyboke.



This sector of the front remains stable.




Russia continues to make small advances along this front. The major push for Chasiv Yar seems to have diminished.



The Russian Army made several small advances in this area. None of them were significant, but they show an evolving pattern of minor Russian tactical advances. The area of the Avdiivka Salient remains, in my view, the most brittle part of the Ukrainian line. A month ago, a relief-in-place operation went pear-shaped and opened a hole in the Ukrainian line at Ocheretyne. The area is under constant attacks by Russian assault groups. The Ukrainian command has wisely decided to give some ground to preserve manpower, but ground given up is still ground given up. At some point, it has to stop.


Pervomaisk, Luhansk

A gas pipeline was hit by a HIMARS rocket.


Southern Front


Robotyne-Verbove- Novoprokopivka

Positional fighting continues in this area, but the front line has stabilized.




Geoloacted images indicate Ukrainian troops are on the outskirts of Sahy. Keep in mind that the front lines here are very sparsely manned. The Ukrainian lines around Krynky continue to expand. 


Rear Areas


Vuzka Bay

Ukraine carried out a coordinated ATACMS and surface drone attack on two Russian transport ships anchored in Vuzka Bay.

This is at least twice the Ukrainians have destroyed ships in this harbor.



Russian media reports Novorossiysk is under drone attack. It is the defacto headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet since it was forced to retreat from Sevastopol. There is also an oil refinery that was targeted last week and a lot of other defense infrastructure.

Taman Oil Refinery, Krasnodar

The Taman refinery was hit by a combination of drones and domestically produced Neptun missiles.

What’s Next

Russia’s pain level is about to increase exponentially as Ukrainian glide bombs, missiles, rockets, and tube artillery are freed up to engage Russian forces in what had previously been a sanctuary in Russia. It will take very few resources to inflict a lot of damage on Russian troops and equipment that had previously been safe because Jake Sullivan was terrified of Vladimir Putin reprising Clevon Little’s role as the sheriff in Blazing Saddles.


How Russia reacts will be interesting. Will it actually attack Western supply lines in Western Ukraine? Will it take the huge leap of carrying out direct action missions inside NATO nations? Or will Putin continue acting like the flailing and failing bully he’s been so far?

It will also be interesting to see how Russia reacts to the increasing tempo of attacks on economic targets inside of Russia.

The Rumor-Intelligence, aka RUMINT, network is predicting another Russian offensive to the west of the current one near Belgorod Oblast. It is also saying that Russia will kick off a Summer Offensive to force Ukraine out of Donbas. I’m not sure that is possible. No matter what you believe about the Russian industrial base, the fact remains that one railroad trunk sustains the entire front. To open up another new front and sustain the one that opened three weeks ago will be a challenge. To do that and support a Summer Offensive would require something like a miracle.

I remain convinced that Ukraine will launch a limited Summer Offensive because I don’t think they can afford to hunker down for a year, and hope things are better in 2025. Things will only be better in 2025 if battlefield pressure forces Putin to make some no-win decisions around the economy and mobilization.