Who are the Russians?

“They’re conducting combat operations right now in Bakhmut primarily. It’s probably about 6,000 or so actual mercenaries and maybe another 20 or 30,000 recruits that they get, many of whom come from prisons,” Milley told the House Armed Services Committee alongside US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “And they are suffering an enormous amount of casualties in the Bakhmut area; the Ukrainians are inflicting a lot of death and destruction on these guys.”

The battle over Bakhmut has turned into a “slaughter-fest" for the Russians, Milley said.

I would point out that, while rented mercenaries and prisoners have been dying, Russia has been able to conserve and train their actual military without allowing them to be bloodied. I wonder how strategic the trade-off will be.



The Russian military isn’t as siloed as the US military. There are regular Russian contract soldiers who are typically reasonably well-trained and trained and equipped. Then there are mercenary groups like PMC Wagner and Patriot. Then there are the Donetsk and Luhansk armies (DPR and LPR) which have been quasi-independent from Russia and aren’t very well trained or equipped. And there’s no federal training system. So in most cases each Republic has to train and equip its own battalions (these are the cannon fodder). In short, if Wagner is depleted, then they aren’t available to fight somewhere else.

Keeping that in mind, the remaining Russian military outside of Wagner hasn’t been all great shakes. About 60 miles south of Bakhmut is the strategically significant village of Vuhledar. The primary rail line connecting Russia to Crimea is only about ten miles away and Ukraine has using Vuhledar to shell supply trains. Last month, Russia attempted to eject Ukraine from Vuhledar using primarily marine infantry and got obliterated.

Mr. Wallace, the British defense secretary, cited reports on Wednesday that “a whole Russian brigade was effectively annihilated” in Vuhledar, where he said that Moscow “lost over 1,000 people in two days.” The British Defense Intelligence Agency reported last week that Russian units had “likely suffered particularly heavy casualties around Vuhledar.”

130 Russian tanks and other armored vehicles were destroyed as well in the largest armor battle of the war. It was a proper smack down.

Almost all of the Russian fighting is in the east. In the south (except for Vuhledar) the Russians are pretty much just digging in and preparing layers of defensive positions. If zoom out on a map you can see why. If Ukraine could attack south and connect to the Black Sea, it would cut the land bridge to Crimea. Vuhledar is only about 50 or so miles from Mariupol.

I don’t know that Ukraine will attack in that direction, but you can see why the Russians might think so. Getting a big bloody nose in the direction was not in their best interests.


Have you finally changed your POV regarding Russia military capability, moral, and leadership?

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