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Ukraine: Moscow Threatens Finland Over NATO, Russia Supposedly Lost Battalion in Failed River Crossing

Ukraine: Moscow Threatens Finland Over NATO, Russia Supposedly Lost Battalion in Failed River Crossing

CCTV caught Russian soldiers killing Ukrainian civilians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted his invasion to stop NATO from expanding to the east.

Putin’s actions did the opposite because Finland and Sweden want to join NATO. Well, Putin threatened Finland if it becomes a member. They share an 800-mile border.

If you remember history I doubt Russia will want to invade Finland.

But what about Ukraine? Also, what would happen to Europe and Russia in the long run if NATO adds the two Nordic countries?

Erdogan Says No to Finland and Sweden

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, you guys (emphasis mine):

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey did not have a “positive opinion” on Finland and Sweden joining Nato and accused Scandinavian countries of harbouring outlawed Kurdish militants.

“We do not have a positive opinion. Scandinavian countries are like a guesthouse for terror organisations,” Erdogan told journalists after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

Erdogan said Turkey’s former rulers “made a mistake” by giving a greenlight for Greece’s NATO membership in 1952.

Grab a mirror, Erdogan.

Did Ukraine Eliminate an Entire Russian Battalion?

Maybe. Ukraine says it did when Russian armored vehicles tried to cross the Siverskyi Donets River:

“Images indicate that during the crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Russia lost significant armored maneuver elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group as well as the deployed pontoon bridging equipment,” the Ministry said in a tweet.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the Ministry added.

But “Russian forces have failed to make any significant advances despite concentrating forces in this area after withdrawing and redeploying units from the Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts,” it concluded.

But a UK serviceman said Ukraine is likely overestimating the loss:

Security expert and former UK serviceman Justin Crump says the Russian bridging effort “failed spectacularly”. But he says Ukraine’s claim to have wiped out more than 1,000 men is probably overstated.

Speaking to the BBC, the CEO of security consultancy Sibylline Ltd estimates that more like 140-180 Russians were killed.

He explains that 70 or 80 vehicles reportedly destroyed in the Ukrainian attack were unlikely to have been filled with infantrymen – but were instead being used to scope out the area and lay down pontoon bridges.

This particular operation is evidence of Moscow’s tactic of “reconnaissance by fire”, he explains – which means “driving forwards till someone shoots at you”.

The Kremlin’s troops appear to have been attempting to cut off the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk – but Crump acknowledges there is a lot of uncertainty around the facts.

Video Shows Russian Soldiers Killing Civilians

Russia Regrouping After Kharkiv

Ukraine has pushed Russia away from Kharkiv, but the Russians will likely regroup and move elsewhere:

After taking time to reconstitute its depleted forces, Russia will likely redeploy them to southeastern Ukraine, the ministry said, toward the banks of the Seversky Donets River, to protect its “main force concentration” and “supply routes for operations” around the Russian-controlled city of Izium.

Izium, almost two hours southeast of Kharkiv, was captured by Russian forces in April and has become an important base of operations as Moscow battles to seize more territory in the eastern region known as Donbas, where the fighting is fiercest.

A pro-Russian media outlet, Readkova, reported that a Ukrainian counterattack was attempting to cut off Russian supply lines to Izium earlier this week. The report could not be independently verified. But Ukrainian forces have destroyed several pontoon bridges over the Seversky Donets that the Russian forces were using to transport supplies and military equipment, according to photos posted to Telegram by local Ukrainian officials.

Despite the defeats surrounding Kharkiv, Russian forces have reportedly made gains in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which together comprise the Donbas, and where Moscow now controls about 80 percent of the territory. In Luhansk, where Russian shelling rarely relents, “the situation has deteriorated significantly,” in recent days, according to the regional governor, Serhiy Haidai.

Thousands of Bodies Found Near Kyiv

I bet this will happen for years:

The bodies of more than 1,000 civilians have been recovered in areas north of Kyiv, Ukraine, that were occupied by Russian forces, the United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said on Thursday, including several hundred who were summarily executed and others who were shot by snipers.

“The figures will continue to increase,” Ms. Bachelet told a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the second in two weeks, focusing on abuses uncovered by investigators in Bucha, Irpin and other suburbs of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, that were seized by Russia’s forces in the early stages of its invasion before its focus shifted east.

Russia did not attend the meeting. It withdrew from the council shortly after the United Nations General Assembly voted last month to suspend its membership and snubbed the opportunity to address a special session.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador in Geneva, instead released a statement dismissing the council’s debate as a “stunt” organized by the West to defame Russia.

Finland

Moscow described Finland’s intention as “hostile” and made threats toward its neighbor:

Finland and Sweden joining NATO would make them “part of the enemy,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, a deputy Russian ambassador to the U.N. said in an interview posted online Thursday. “If there are NATO detachments in these territories, these territories will become a target or possible target for a strike — in the same way that Russian territory becomes possible target for a strike the moment NATO detachments are introduced” nearby, he told the website UnHerd.

In the short run, NATO wants to make sure Russia won’t do anything to Sweden and Finland before they become official members.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the CEO of the left-of-center New America think-tank, wrote about the need to slow down in The Financial Times:

All parties concerned should take a deep breath and slow down. The threat of Russia invading either Finland or Sweden is remote. But admitting them to the military alliance will redraw and deepen Europe’s 20th-century divisions in ways that will probably preclude far bolder and braver thinking about how to achieve peace and prosperity in the 21st.

Nato’s immediate aim should be to help Ukrainian forces push Putin far enough back to his starting positions in the east of the country that he is willing to engage in serious peace negotiations. But what does a positive peace look like? Putin will never come to the negotiating table just to ratify a defeat. Turning Russia into North Korea through sanctions will simply push it closer to China. Moreover, a weak and humiliated Russia just means a permanent spoiler in European and global politics.

But Russia not invading Finland and Sweden could be another reason why NATO will make them team members.

Which leads us to…

Why Not Ukraine?

Because NATO knows it will have to get involved and Putin will not stop trying to reclaim Ukraine:

Ukraine, battling a fierce Russian invasion, would benefit immensely from NATO’s defining credo, which says that “an armed attack” against any NATO ally is considered an attack against them all. But President Vladimir V. Putin has tried to justify his invasion by saying that Ukraine’s potential NATO membership threatens Russia, and Washington and its European allies do not want to further antagonize Russia and risk transforming the conflict into an expanded war.

Ukraine might not meet other requirements due to corruption since its independence from the Soviet Union:

To meet one of the three main criteria for entry into NATO, a European nation must demonstrate a commitment to democracy, individual liberty and support for the rule of law. While Ukrainian leaders say they have met that threshold, some American and European officials argue otherwise.

In a 2020 analysis, Transparency International, an anticorruption watchdog, ranked Ukraine 117th out of 180 countries on its corruption index, lower than any NATO nation at the time.

Some Western officials also question whether Ukraine could meet another criterion to contribute to the collective defense of NATO nations, even though Ukraine sent troops to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has also shown its military prowess during the Russian invasion.

Human Cost

Putin’s full-scale invasion has caused the largest movement of people since WWII:

About 14 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes—including more than six million who have fled the country—and at least 3,496 civilians have been killed since Russia began its invasion, United Nations officials said.

The number of people uprooted by the fighting amounts to nearly one-third of Ukraine’s prewar population of 44 million. Most of those seeking refuge outside of Ukraine are women, children or the elderly because wartime legislation prevents most men of fighting age from leaving.

Millions more are effectively trapped in Ukraine, the U.N. said, estimating that 13 million people can’t leave because of heightened security risks, destroyed roads and infrastructure, and lack of resources or ability to find refuge elsewhere.

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Comments

johnny dollar | May 13, 2022 at 11:20 am

Putin, inadvertently, has destroyed his own brand.
The Russian army has been content to subsist on its reputation as a fearsome opponent, willing to sacrifice thousands of men for tactical and strategic goals. This reputation persisted in spite of its lamentable performance in Afghanistan.
Russian arms were considered equivalent in many respects to Western arms, and in some cases probably better.
No one is afraid of the Russian army anymore, although the Finns and Swedes, not to mention the Poles and Baltic nations, are a little nervous about Putin’s intentions.
Although presumably their nukes would function adequately, Putin doesn’t strike me as being suicidal, which is what would occur if he launched a nuclear strike. He would be the first casualty.
The Russian armed forces have proven themselves to be inept, corrupt, and ill motivated. Their fearsome armored corps are largely rusting hulks in Ukrainian fields, at least those that haven’t been carjacked by Ukrainian farmers with tractors.

    Whitewall in reply to johnny dollar. | May 13, 2022 at 11:27 am

    Kaliningrad sitting right there in spitting distance of Sweden and Finland is Putin’s ace maybe.

    CommoChief in reply to johnny dollar. | May 13, 2022 at 11:50 am

    That’s a bit too dismissive. Certainly the initial performance of Russia wasn’t all that they hoped for. However keep the following points in mind:
    1. Russian forces were largely inexperienced in the first weeks of fighting. Combined arms operations are not easy, especially with an inadequate logistics train.
    2. The Russians, those who survived devastating losses, from rifleman to Regimental CDR have gained hard won experience from the crucible of combat. There really isn’t a way to completely simulate combat operations and the Russians had nothing close to the facilities and budget for training that the US has. Their operational performance will improve, especially as they have narrowed their focus allowing them to concentrate and apply their preferred principle of mass which has been strangely absent so far.
    3. The performance of NATO supplied anti armor missiles the US Javelin and the UK NLAW can’t be overstated. Employed properly they are a game changer. Without these the situation would be far more dire.

    In sum the Ukrainian forces have performed as well as could be hoped. They were gifted a technological edge that has a enabled their smaller, lighter force to occasionally gain local superiority and use choke points and maneuver to destroy superior forces. The flip side is that there is a finite supply of these missiles and the Russians have gained valuable experience while largely fulfilling their objectives in SE Ukraine, in particular along the Sea of Azov. A shortened logistical train will allow the Russians more operational flexibility.

    Bottom line IMO, is not to count the chickens before they hatch.

      geronl in reply to CommoChief. | May 13, 2022 at 10:12 pm

      Werstern tanks wouldn’t stand up to those super modern anti-tank weapons either.

        CommoChief in reply to geronl. | May 14, 2022 at 1:41 pm

        Modern missile tech both anti armor and anti ship grant defenders a big edge. Something to keep in mind for any US Naval adventures or even routine deployment in narrow straights or coastal areas.

      rightway in reply to CommoChief. | May 15, 2022 at 10:37 am

      The Russian Army is mostly made up of 1 year conscripts. Any battle experience will be quickly lost. The Russian Army has no real professional NCO corp. There are many other issues, but those are primary reasons. Until that changes they will never be able to pull off combined arms.

      The tank is not obsolete, if used in an effective combined arms scenario. A lesson that the US Marines are likely to learn the hard way in the future.

      The US since WWII has had two secret weapons, the US soldier, air dominance and signal intelligence. Unfortunately, we may not have air dominance in the future, since the Democrats are busily gutting the US Air Force. Grounding some of our limited number of our Gen 5 F-22 is beyond stupid.

      Another problem is the Russians and Chinese are working anti-satellite weapons, but our military genius VP Harris has announced we will discontinue development of anti-satellite weapons.

Maybe all this ‘Moscow threatens’ will hasten the inevitable collapse of the Russian Federation. Or just plain Russia. Totalitarian regimes can only stand so much of it and only so much corruption. Democracies can stand only so much more democracy before committing suicide. Corruption plays a part here too.

Finland and Sweden have a combined defense budget about 25% of the Russian budget. That’s in addition to the massive advantage the EU budget and most or all of them are increasing their budgets. Add to that the quality of the equipment and training of these troops, I doubt Russia is seriously planning to get their asses handed to them in a road game where they would be fighting on very rough terrain.

China must be losing hope for their highly vaunted China century. The question will soon be whether the EU will become the new 3rd Reich challenge. I don’t see much in the history of Europe that suggests that this will ultimately be good for the US and the free world.

    Peabody in reply to Pasadena Phil. | May 13, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    “I don’t see much in the history of Europe that suggests that this will ultimately be good for the US and the free world.”

    I don’t either.

What’s interesting is that as a result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in WWII, Finland lost some territory, but, though vastly outnumbered, managed to push the Soviets back, and, in doing so, inflicted incredibly punishing losses in troops and equipment. The battle ranks as one of the greatest upsets in military history, a rare instance of a vastly outnumbered force defeating a numerically superior force. The Finns are pretty capable fighters. After the debacle in Ukraine, I highly doubt that Russia wants to invade another highly-motivated, highly-patriotic country.

AnAdultInDiapers | May 13, 2022 at 12:37 pm

It may not have been reported in the US but this week the UK has guaranteed assistance to both Sweden and Ukraine in the event they’re attacked by Russia.

What I haven’t seen is the extent of the assistance that’s promised. My guess is that it would be comparable to that promised (and provided) to Ukraine: weapons and (if needed) training, probably access to military intelligence, but no boots on the ground (or direct aerial/naval action).

    CommoChief in reply to AnAdultInDiapers. | May 13, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    The UK was tasked with security for North Sea in cold war era, to include boots on the ground in Nordic Nations, primarily as terrain denial v Soviets to mitigate/prevent Soviet use as air/sea bases v US maritime convoy executing REFORGER. The UK is just dusting off and updating those plans to 2022 realities though the PM does seem, IMO, far too keen on dragging the UK and by extension NATO into more a direct confrontation.

      AnAdultInDiapers in reply to CommoChief. | May 13, 2022 at 5:26 pm

      I haven’t seen a commitment to go to war to defend Sweden or Finland, but even if that were given, the UK declaring war to support a non-NATO ally would (in my view) not qualify for Article 5 mutual defence. So the US (and other NATO members) could very legitimately go “Nah, not our problem.”

      Which is why I hope a commitment (as was given to Belgium, causing WWI and to Poland, causing WWII) hasn’t been given, because the UK just doesn’t have the armed forces (or industrial capacity) needed to pursue a solo war these days.

        CommoChief in reply to AnAdultInDiapers. | May 13, 2022 at 6:03 pm

        The commitment for protection of Belgian neutrality was originally made to protect the Thames estuary, not to protect Belgium. It was, at best, enlightened self interest and a well deserved slap to the French, which come to think of it, should be done more often just on general principle.

The Gentle Grizzly | May 13, 2022 at 12:37 pm

If Putin’s threats continue, I suggest of the Finland’s president or Prime Minister or whoever it is, simply send Putin a recording of Finnlandia.

    alaskabob in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | May 13, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    The Winter War was an impressive though temporary victory as Stalin regrouped and swamped Finland in the summer. But that was Stalin’s army … and now we see Putin’s. If it weren’t for nukes, NATO would be have lunch off of Red Square at the Hotel Russia about now.

      CommoChief in reply to alaskabob. | May 13, 2022 at 6:47 pm

      Last I checked none of the members of NATO had chosen to directly participate in an armed conflict with Russia so I’m not sure I get your point. Unless you mean that we have enough responsible adults in a position of influence to keep us out of a direct war with a nuclear power. This is a border skirmish between Russia and Ukraine. It’s not our fight, no matter how much money defense contractors and other crisis actors use to fan the flames.

      For example, would other Nations be justified in opposing a US incursion into Mexico to stop the cartels? Mexico is a failed State with a 2000 mile shared border. American citizens are dying every day as result of their failure to stop the cartels. American towns and taxpayers are footing a nearly incalculable bill to pay for millions of illegal immigrants both directly and indirectly.

      The US would be justified in conducting military operations to assert control our border, eliminate the cartels which harm the American people and restore order. Would we care if say Sweden was sending strongly worded denunciations? Not one bit once we made the decision and began operations.

        alaskabob in reply to CommoChief. | May 13, 2022 at 7:04 pm

        My point is that without nuclear weapons, any conflict with Russia would have been fought past the gates of Moscow now that Russia’s weakness is shown. A lot of scores want to be settled by members of the former Warsaw Pact. Of course, that is not the case because Russia has a nuclear backstop. No matter how badly the Russians get walloped, the war can go just so far. The Soviets got nailed in their first incursion into Finland but sheer numbers in summer made a difference and that still may be the case now for Ukraine.

        The USA under Clinton and Obama/Biden paved the way for this war. Everyone called out Russia as a regional power after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its weakness exposed in conventional warfare makes it a regional player but the nukes makes even a mouse that roared potent. Libya wasn’t Washington’s piggy bank but an armory for Obama’s plans. Ukraine is the piggy bank that is being constantly infused with more cookie$ for the cookie jar

          CommoChief in reply to alaskabob. | May 13, 2022 at 8:04 pm

          I take your point in relation to nuclear capacity being a strong deterrent and the absence of that nuclear arsenal being a relative weakness. You seem to be implying that a desire for ‘settling old scores’ is sufficient for one Nation to invade another. That could get out of hand pretty quickly.

          You are very correct that the collective western response to support Ukraine is far less about concern or goodwill towards the Ukrainian people than creating money flow and opportunities for graft by bad actors.

AnAdultInDiapers | May 13, 2022 at 12:41 pm

The claims of ‘a battalion’ may hold, depending how you measure one. The claim of 1000+ dead does feel highly unlikely but the 70+ vehicles (someone’s literally identified and counted 70, and it’s likely at least one ended up hidden in the murky waters) is easily enough to be a whole BTG and it’d be hard to destroy that many vehicles with artillery and air strikes (both were reported, on different bridging attempts) without causing 100-300 casualties.

Even if the number of dead soldiers isn’t a full battalion, it’s clear that a BTG or two is no longer combat effective as a result of this bridging effort.

    Casualties does not just mean KIA. Losing more than half the vehicles would probably render them combat ineffective, at least.

      AnAdultInDiapers in reply to geronl. | May 14, 2022 at 6:55 am

      I know. That’s why I used the term casualties rather than ‘dead’ or ‘kia’.

      The 1000 deaths are what the BBC is reporting as the Ukrainian claim – maybe they did claim casualties and the BBC lied; it wouldn’t be the first time.

The Arab, Syrian, Libyan, Afghan, Slavic Spring in progress.

Maybe the Russians are going to expose the US funded bioweapons labs in Ukraine.
That would explain all the “sympathy guilt” being pushed by the media sources.

    geronl in reply to scooterjay. | May 13, 2022 at 10:07 pm

    “bioweapons labs” is unknown. They could be medical labs like we have been funding in Russia, China, Kazakhstan etc etc

    Putin wants to rebuild the empire. That is why the invasion happened

Turkey criticizing any other country for terrorists staying in their country is hilarious.

Doesn’t Erdogen have a mirror?

Johnny Weissmuller | May 13, 2022 at 6:18 pm

A money laundering operation. You never see reports of fighting, the way John Laurence reported in Vietnam, Hotels remain open in Ukraine.

The only thing I am absolutely certain of is that everything we are told about this is a lie.

Putin has been wanting to rebuild the Russian empire for decades and he finally saw an opportunity and he has really did a bad job. All of his planning going to crap. Maybe he forgot how corrupt and backward much of the Soviet economy and such are

An offensive river crossing is not as simple as it sounds. Even assuming a well trained amphibious force with significant fire support it is a gamble to succeed.

There is a reason why we pay for Marines to exist. They take the gamble out of it.

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