Ukraine War Day #96: Daily Grind vs Derring-Do

Dear Readers:

Continuing on yesterday’s theme of Zaporozhie. But there was also some very exciting and nail-biting news about neighboring Kherson. I would prefer to focus on stories about rebuilding, establishing the new government, children going back to school, everybody getting back to work, etc. But unfortunately one cannot forget that the war is still going on, an attack or counter-offensive can happen at any time, sudden and deadly violence can happen at any time.

So, I was following my usual military blogs yesterday, including [] which is my main go-to, along with Defense Politics Asia; and there was news of a Ukrainian surprise attack against this Kherson village called “Davydov Brod” (Ukrainian spelling “Davidiv Brid”) which could be translated as “David’s Ford”, as in the ford in a river. I followed this battle as best as I could, biting my nails the whole time. This was advertised as a major Ukrainian counter-offensive, their tactical goal being to build a bridgehead with far-reaching implications. Not just to cut off Kherson and Zaporozhie but possibly also to damage major hydroelectric objects supplying water to the Crimea. Depending which sources you believe, the result of the battle was either a glorious victory, or a crushing defeat, for Team Ukraine. In the piece I just linked, Kherson’s leader, Kirill Stremousov claims that the Ukrainian soldiers were repulsed twice, losing around 200 men and 20 vehicles; including 70 dead bodies which they simply left strewed on the battlefield. Russians say the Ukrainian soldiers made two attempts in exactly the same place, at the bridge over the Ford, and were repulsed each time, in exactly the same way. If true, this shows a certain bone-headed stubbornness on the part of the Ukrainians, not unlike their past kamikaze missions against Snake Island.

The disturbing thing is that the Ukrainians could even attempt such an adventure in the South, when they are losing so badly in the North, and I have my own personal theory about this.

General Zaluzhny: Pity the soldier whose bosses are idiots.

Recall a couple of days ago, these same respected military analysts reported how Zelensky permitted General Zaluzhny to order a withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Severodonetsk, if he should deem it necessary, but had to wait until May 27 before he could even think about doing so. But then other people said no, it wasn’t May 27, it was actually May 29, which was yesterday. Which was the day of this David’s Ford attack. And yesterday also the day when Ukrainian troops started fleeing from Severodonetsk, if Ramzan Kadyrov is to be believed. In other words, something big was being planned elsewhere, and maybe Zaluzhny had to wait to see if it would work out before calling his retreat, that was the theory. So, maybe this David Ford thing in Kherson was the thing they were waiting for. To see if it would work, and if it did, it would be huge, and the Russians would have to drop everything and rush down there to stop it, thus easing the pressure on Severodonetsk. This all sounds ridiculous and hugely amateurish, and I am sure that Zaluzhny would just roll his eyes and mutter to himself, “Why do I have to listen to these idiots?”

Which raises another big conspiracy theory, and I must warn my readers that I am mostly just tracking rumors here, like the gossiping of the Court Eunuchs. According to these rumors, the Ukrainian army split into 3 major factions: (1) the Azov Nazis and their political leaders; (2) the professional soldiers, led by Zaluzhny. These studied in military academies, and they know about tactics and strategy, and other boring things.

Handsome Alexei Arestovich, master of the derring-do!

(3) The third faction is Zelensky’s camarilla, led by Ellen Sky’s personal “Advisor” Alexei Arestovich. [Although, to be sure, there is a countervailing conspiracy theory, according to which Alexei fell under the Tsar’s disfavor and is no longer invited to military briefings.] One thing that is fairly certain: Towards the beginning of the war, Arestovich was the “genius” behind the daring Ukrainian helicopter missions which flew across the Russian border and bombed the oil refinery in Belgorod. This was an attack against Russian re-fueling and supply, it worked well, and was a rather brilliant operation in its own way. Shortly after this success, Arestovich was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in the Ukrainian armed forces. [Which must have made the professional soldiers roll their eyes again although, to be sure, this chameleon Alexei did have some minimal military experience as an army translator, back in one of his past lives.]

Thanks to this, and other acts of derring-do, Alexei came to see himself as a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel of the Ukrainian cause, who would win the war by performing grandiose acts and masterminding risky but spectacularly rewarding special operations. There are [unconfirmed] theories that he was the mastermind behind the continuous (and mostly failed) operations to rescue Azovsteel fighters by helicopter. In his nightly podcast with Russian dissident Mark Feigin, Arestovich once admitted that one of his “dearest friends” was holed up in Azovsteel. Evil tongues claim this “dear friend” is Alexei’s brother-in-law. Even eviller tongues claim this so-called “brother-in-law” is Alexei’s “companion” in the Spartan sense (Greek love, if you get my drift). Either way, this beloved Azov Nazi is now probably sitting in a Russian POW camp. The point being, that Alexei would have done anything to save his friend, even sacrificing all those helicopters and pilots. Again, this is all speculation, but it’s fun speculation!

Also speculative is the theory that Arestovich was the mastermind behind the continuous attacks against Snake Island, all of which failed. If so, this shows a pattern in Alexei’s thinking: He is incapable of just laying down his cards and walking away from the table, like a sensible person would do. When he loses, he just doubles down and keeps trying the same thing over and over. Which, again, leads me to speculate that he was behind this David’s Ford thing in Kherson. Because it has his earmarks all over it, and not the earmarks of a real General, just as Zaluzhny,

The Enemy Never Sleeps

Okay, now that I’ve trashed Arestovich enough, let’s go back to Zaporozhie with this piece by Anton Antonov. We reconnect with our old friend Vladimir Rogov, who serves in the military-civilian administration of that portion of Zaporozhie Oblast under Russian control. Recall that Rogov is hugely enthusiastic about Russian integration and restoring the “Taurida” Governate of Empress Catherinian times. Rogov is eager to rebuild the land bridge which once spanned from Crimea all the way to Moscow. Currently the people residing in Kherson and Zaporozhie can get to mainland Russia only by passing through a narrow crossing point located between Kherson and Crimea. In Soviet times there was a federal highway spanning from Moscow to Simferopol; and also a railroad. “And as soon as this highway is restored, this road of life, as I can call it without exaggeration, we will see what kind of energy is unleashed.”

Unfortunately, one cannot count one’s chickens just yet. Rogov again: “Currently there is a reign of terror [in the Ukrainian-controlled portion of the Oblast], there is physical danger, stemming from the [Ukrainian] territorial battalions, the local people call them teriks. We see provocations and persecutions on the part of the SBU; and they are bringing in a lot of Galicians, militants, Nazis from Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopol.”

Vladimir Rogov

These Galician carpetbaggers treat the Zaporozhian residents badly, lord it over them arrogantly, physically abuse them, and rob them at the checkpoints. Many Zaporozhians are getting sick of this and are moving over to the Russian-occupied side. “People want peace. They want the Russian world in the direct sense of the word.”

Kiev controls only a third of the Oblast, but unfortunately this third includes the capital city, Zaporozhie, which contains almost half the entire population of the province.

In past times Zaporozhie had a booming economy, exporting billions of dollars worth of goods to Russia. In the future, a liberated Zaporozhie has a lot of offer to Russia, including the military aerodrome in Melitopol and a naval base in Berdyansk, on the shore of the Azov Sea. According to Rogov, members of the new government are already busy making plans to renovate this port. The future looks bright. But first must get through this war.

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13 Responses to Ukraine War Day #96: Daily Grind vs Derring-Do

  1. colliemum says:

    Just an immense thank you, yalensis, for this excellent sit rep. Sadly, I’m a fair bit under the weather so cannot comment or write as much as I’d like, but did want to thanks you.


  2. Stephen T Johnson says:

    Well, let’s start with echoing Collimeum’s thanks. Your posts are consistently interesting and thought provoking, and your personal good humour in comments is a big positive too,
    Onto the prime topic – Hmm…it’s an interesting theory that Arestovich is the mastermind, though I suspect for the Kherson operation, Kim’s a more plausible suspect – same profile, though, another civilian who thinks he’s Zhukov and Guderian rolled into one. I have a strong suspicion that really no one is meaningfully in charge, it’s like whoever talked to Elensky last gets their way.
    As several commentators I’ve been reading point out, it really seems like the Ukrainians are playing for drama – some successfully, like the first helo raid on the oil tanks, some pathetic like the wandering border post, some appalling, like the Snake Island offensive – while the Russians just grind for victory.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Stephen! Yes, I had almost forgotten about Kim. Agree he is a plausible suspect, and lives in the neighborhood too (=Nikolaev). He is not as flashy nor as broodingly Byronic as Arestovich, but possesses an equally inflated ego, I dare say.

      Yeah, the Ukrainians seem like they engage too much in amateur theatrics, that’s why the book “The Scarlet Pimpernel” keeps popping up in my mind. The hero of that story is very dashing and resourceful; but in the end, rather ineffective, in the larger scheme of things. He saves the lives of a few aristos, but can’t change the course of the war. The Frenchies still win.


  3. mato48 says:

    If Russia’s military can overwhelm NATO-trained and equipped Ukrainian troops even when being significantly outnumbered, the collective West should seriously reconsider its policy of constantly “poking the bear.”

    Maybe NATO is indeed a paper tiger.

    Maybe Russia could have prevented Muammar Gaddafi’s terrible end.

    Maybe we can breath a little bit easier when this is done.


  4. gatopreto says:

    Dear Yalensis: re your Cinderella Turns the Table, I am one Older Reader in both instances (88 years old!) and am I glad to see you coming back from Arts Editor to the real world – presenting to us with the Superb Chronicler that you have been trying to, for whatever reaso, hide. Cheers.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, gato! I really appreciate your age and wisdom (and being a loyal reader). But wait, are you saying you didn’t like my opera reviews?!



  5. Stevelancs says:

    If you have the time and the inclination, could you address the problem posed in the concluding paragraphs of Scott Ritters article here please?


    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Steve, thanks for posting this excellent analysis by Scott Ritter. Scott has been sounding the alarm on these very important issues (including NATO re-militarizing Ukraine) for several weeks now, and has received a lot of flak about it from the rah-rah crowd.

      I think he makes points that everybody needs to think (and worry) about. Which can be broadly summarized as “What happens next after Donbass falls?” It’s a dark and dim future that we peer into, if NATO doesn’t start backing off.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stevelancs says:

        Thanks for your reply.
        Scott Ritter makes the point. “… it will leave Russia with a number of unfulfilled political objectives, including denazification, demilitarization, permanent Ukrainian neutrality, and NATO concurrence with a new European security framework along the lines drawn up by Russia in its December 2021 treaty proposals.”, and I don’t see how Russia can stop and allow the west to develop weapons systems comparable to the ones Russia now has, and then start again when they feel like it. There are plenty of other anti-Russian nazis in adjoining countries who will be happy to have another go. As you say, it’s a dark and dim future ahead.


      • peter moritz says:

        The posts critical of Ritter – as I read them – refer to the influence of weapons deliveries on the primary outcome of the conflict, the securing of Donbas within its pre-2014 boundaries. And there the critics are right, they will not change that stage at all.
        However, in the latest piece, Ritter in his analysis clearly addressed the post-conflict scenario.
        In this context, I facetiously commented on MoA, that to demonstrate how serious Russia is taking the still intended further expansion of NATO with the inclusion of Finland and Sweden, Russia needs to destroy the shiny new headquarter in Brussels and maybe incapacitate a few military airfields in some other NATO countries with some well-placed rockets with conventional warheads.
        Just to demonstrate how serious Russia does take NATOS’s relentless drive and how much it is willing to risk to prevent this.
        And then just turn off any gas and oil supplies to Europe. As to the consequences of that move, I refer to those articles in the Sake blogr:

        This really would mean an economic catastrophe within the EU that should wake all those who thought they could and can ignore Russia’s concerns.


        • yalensis says:

          Replying to Steve and Peter at the same time: I followed a little bit the online feud between Scott Ritter and Gonzalo Lira. Scott sort of did a 180 degree turn when he claimed that the new weapons systems to be supplied to the Ukraine (including Howitzers) would be game changers. A lot of people jumped all over him for that. After reading many analyses, I think I agree with Scott’s critics on this point (not that I really have a right to an opinion, as I am mostly ignorant of military lore); namely that these weapons (even the HIMARS will not make a difference — the New Atlas blogger-guy is very convincing about that). However, I disagree with people with say deride the Wonder-Weapons concept in principle, saying that new weapons never make a difference in a war. I think that’s going too far. I mean, didn’t the invention of the Long Bow make a difference in medieval European wars? Likewise, the atom bomb made a difference in the U.S. vs Japan war. Still, I get that these cases are exceptions, most of the time technology itself won’t change the course of the war, it’s the soldiers themselves that really count.

          In any case, from I understand, Scott Ritter is sort of changing his tune now and focusing not so much on the Wonder-weapon issue, as on these darker issues regarding “What happens the day after tomorrow?” Being a pessimist myself and a worrier by nature, I am always thinking what can possibly go wrong. Well, it’s part of Risk Analysis, no? Hence, I think people should listen to Scott, even if they don’t agree with him. I also don’t understand why people like Gonzalo impugn his motives. Well, maybe they are suspicious of him and think he is a NATO agent, or something. Myself, I cannot see into peoples souls nor read their minds, so I just have to go on what they say, and give everybody the benefit of the doubt until they prove themself to be unreliable.

          Liked by 1 person

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