First my apologies for the flippant headline. I personally abhor all loss of human life. On the other hand, I have been waiting patiently for quite a long time to employ that particular pun, so I should be forgiven.
Secondly, you may have seen the big news in other forums, regarding the Russian military wiping out much of the Ukrainian General Staff in a single air strike. This happened yesterday, around 12:30 hours. A Russian Cruise Missile launched from the Black Sea struck a village called Shirokaya Dacha, in the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast, killing over 50 Ukrainian generals and other officers as they gathered for a convocation. Their operational working group known as “Alexandria” included the commanders of the “Kakhovka” parachute troopers and several other units operating in the Nikolaev and Zaporozhie fronts. So, these guys got together, they were meeting and chatting, probably drinking some tea, and then BOOM! If you have to die, it’s probably the best way to go, because it’s so quick.
The news of their instant obliteration was sensational, and all over the Russian blogosphere, everybody is talking about it. What I can add is some backstory, and also some expert analysis, based on this piece from the Russian mainstream media. The reporter is Alyona Zadorozhnaya.
First some backstory: Celebrity-watchers spotted DPR Head Denis Pushilin walking the red carpet at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum this past weekend. It is said that Pushilin made a direct and official appeal to Vladimir Putin: Please do something to stop this ungodly shelling of Donetsk civilian infrastructure. People are dying like flies.
Some pundits assume that this missile strike was part of the response. Gossips say that Russo-Ukrainian back-channels exist; that Russians have hitherto avoided such blatant attacks against Ukrainian decision-making centers and individual leaders; and that Russians have warned their Ukrainian “colleagues” not to presume on the continuation of such forbearance. It is further rumored that the Ukrainians ignored these subliminal warnings and continued to target the people of Donetsk. And that this is the response, as promised. When will they ever learn, that the Russian state does not bluff?
Full Control of Land, Sea, Air
On the other hand, other pundits, such as the one interviewed in Zadorozhnaya’s piece, believe that the purpose of the strike was to abort a specific operation. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that both things can’t be true. The reporter interviewed a man named Sergei Khatylev, who is touted as a military expert, and by the look of his photo has a chest full of stripes and medals to prove it. Plus, Khatylev (now retired) used to command the special Zenith-Rocket forces for Special Operations, so he definitely knows from rockets.
Khatylev: “The determination of the exact location of these Ukrainian Generals and [other] officers — this was the fruit of our Intel, our Spetznaz, and our spy agencies. Together with the Russian military command, they prepared a brilliant operation which resulted in the mass elimination of the enemy’s General Staff.
“Our modern means of Intel allow us to know the exact locations of Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) generals and officers with an accuracy close to 100%. Then our very accurate rockets can reach [any spot] in the Ukraine from any border. The entire territory of the Ukraine is under our fire control. For example, from the Black Sea we can launch Kalibr missiles. Our Kinzhal missiles are air-based, and we can also launch ground-based missiles such as the Iskander.
“The trickiest task was the determination of the time and place of the meeting of the UAF military leadership. For this purpose we have [human] Intel, Special Ops troops, and also information from our agentura [e.g., spies].”
Khatylev goes on to speculate that this particular meeting had the agenda of discussing how best to employ the new weapons donated by the West. Those guys were probably planning some kind of operation, he thinks. The operation might have been urgent, like in the next few hours. Which also explains the urgency of the decision to wipe these guys out before they could even get started on whatever it was that they were planning.