Some of you may have heard about the Ukrainian incursion into Russia, into the Grayvoron Region of the Belgorod Oblast. The attack happened on Monday May 22, around 14:20 in the afternoon, and may have involved up to 100 or more Ukrainian soldiers, along with armored vehicles. We will see below that many of the diversionaries are reported as killed, but some individual terrorists may still be hiding in the woods around the area. As of yesterday though (Tuesday, May 23), Russian press declared the crisis to be over. The State of Emergency was lifted, and residents were allowed back into their homes.
Military experts agree that, from a strategic point of view, the attack was meaningless and will have no effect on the course of the war. (A cynic might even figure that such cross-border raids are beneficial to the Russian cause: The more soldiers the Ukrainians throw into such divertissements, the fewer they have for their real offensives, like attacking Zaporozhie or something like that.) However, from a psychological point of view, such attacks are meant to shock and terrorize the Russian people. The Russian blogosphere came to the conclusion (with which I concur) that the whole thing was just a PR stunt meant to remove “Bakhmut falls” headlines from Westie media, and replace them with headlines about valiant “Russian” anti-Putin Resistance fighters taking over an entire province in a single day. (The talking point was picked up eagerly by pro-Ukr trolls, all over the blogosphere, who kept repeating over and over: “It took the Russians 9 months to capture a small meaningless city, but the Ukrainians captured an entire province in just a few hours – rah rah for our side!”)
By The Hammer Of Thor!
Russian bloggers reported that the invading soldiers (estimates range from 70-130) carried the blue-white flag of the WWII Vlasovites (those Russian units who fought for Hitler), and that their vehicles carried a strange insignia known as Thor’s Rune. Thor being a member of the Norse-God pantheon; and his Rune signifying his battle against the Wolf Demon, Fenris. Allegedly Thor lost one arm in the battle, but was later compensated by receiving a cool super-weapon in the shape of a hammer. The members of the so-called “Russian Liberation Army” are known for being literary scholars and adepts of the ancient mythologies.
To help explain what really happened, and what it means, I have a couple of pieces from the Russian mainstream press. First this one by reporter Darya Volkova.
Who speaks with a man named Alexei Filatov, who is the President of a soldiers organization called “Alfa”. Filatov: “The situation is complicated by the Landschaft. The forests allow the enemy to hide, so that it may take a long time to catch them all. And our task is not just to destroy the diversionaries, but to do it without taking on losses to our own side.
“It is obvious that we can’t throw all our resources into the Belgorod Oblast, that would leave other areas on our border vulnerable to enemy incursion. Which is probably exactly what they were counting on. This diversion doesn’t have real military or political goals, but mainly morale and psychological goals.”
Filatov noted that the terrorist group appeared to be well-trained and equipped. They had mortar launchers and artillery. They shot up both administrative and residential areas and attacked critical infrastructure such as electricity. During the crisis, the lights went out for a period of time.
In addition, as reporter Alexei Degtyarev reports, the terrorists most likely enjoyed NATO satellite assistance. Two days before the attack (May 20), the American satellite GeoEye-1 snapped a bunch of photos from around the Belgorod area and posted them on the Maxar site.
A few hours after the initial attack, the Belgorod authorities put into action their Emergency Preparedness Plan. They declared a state of emergency and evacuated civilians from the following towns: Grayvoron, Novostroevka, Gorkovsky, Bezymeno, Mokraya Orlovka, Glotovo, Gora-Podol, Zamostie, and Spodariushino. Temporary shelters for the civilians were set up in Stary Oskol, and in the Yakovlevsky and Ivnyansky Okrugs.
Emergency measures also included shutting down any businesses or enterprises where chemicals, biologicals, radioactive materials, or explosives might be stored; and setting up checkpoints to verify people’s documents.
The Governor of the Region is a man named Vyacheslav Gladkov. During the course of the crisis he kept his residents informed of the course of events. Eventually the Ukrainian attack was repelled by units of the Russian Army, Border Guards, the National Guard, and the FSB.
On Tuesday morning the anti-terrorist operation continued, and residents were asked to not return to their homes just yet. But later that day, as mentioned above, the State of Emergency was lifted. The Russian authorities claimed they had killed about half of the terrorists in the company and chased the rest of them back across the Ukrainian border.
Numbers And Casualties
On Tuesday, some numbers started coming in. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that 70 terrorists had been liquidated, along with 4 armored vehicles and 5 pickup trucks. [yalensis: Alas, they are still using the American word “pickup” (пикап), I thought the Academy of Sciences told the reporters to stop using so many American words!]
When the incursion first started, the Ukrainian militants opened a massive machine-gun and artillery fire through the Belgorod Oblast, including such Okrugs as Grayvoron, Shebekinsky, Valuisky, and Belgorod.
A Ukrainian drone was shot down in Nikolsky.
Fourteen artillery shells were launched at the town of Zhuralevka. No casualties and no real damage.
A mortar shell was launched at the tiny village of Lozavaya Rudka. No casualties and no real damage.
Five mortars launched at the village of Stary Khutor. No casualties and no real damage.
[yalensis: You see what I mean? The Ukrainians were just wasting their precious ammo on these meaningless targets.]
In another, unnamed place, two bombs were tossed out of a drone. There were no casualties, but a private homeowner had to stand there and watch his roof cave in.
Grayvoron took the worse hit, and the saddest result were some civilian casualties. The Ukrainians really let loose on this unfortunate region with everything they had: Grenade launchers, artillery, rockets; and also grenades launched from drones. Twenty-nine residential homes were damaged, along with 3 automobiles. Twelve peaceful civilians were wounded.
Electricity was damaged, and the lights went off in 14 towns. The authorities had to hold back and not allow the repair work to start until the crisis had been resolved.
The Situation In Shebekino
This urban center suffered quite a lot: It was shelled 25 times.
The town of Terezovka received 8 mortar shells. There were no casualties or damage.
The Ukrainians worked their artillery against Novaya Tavolzhanka. There were no casualties, but a couple of homes saw damaged fences. Here too, a bomb was tossed out of a drone.
The village of Sereda received 10 shells; and 3 houses lost their facades.
The most serious human casualties occurred in the town of Glotovo. According to Governor Gladkov: “A married couple were injured. The woman incurred shrapnel wounds to her legs, and went in to traumatic shock. She is in serious condition. The man received wounds around his abdomen and chest, and is in moderately serious condition. They were taken to Hospital #2. Currently they are both under observation by the doctors. All the necessary care is being given to them.”
The only known death attributed to the terrorist raid was that of an elderly woman (born in 1941) who died in the process of being evacuated from her home. She was riding in a bus at the time, along with her son and her daughter-in-law. Officials are investigating the causes of her death.
And thus ends the mini-saga of Thor’s Rune, and nobody is talking about the victory of Bakhmut any more. Well played, Mr. Zelensky!
you almost have to admire how the ukrainians are willing to die for reasons as flimsy as western pr stunts
would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic
i agree… funny if it wasn’t so tragic… such stupidity on full display seems a regular feature of natos ongoing war on russia, but they call it ‘russias invasion of ukraine’ and justify all sorts of insanity, while ignoring the lead up to this – 2014 – 2022..
yalensis – thanks for this post.. cheers james
I think it was launched in a hurry as a response to the loss of Artëmovsk. It was probably initially planned to be much larger, with follow up armoured units to occupy positions captured by the Vlasovite quislings and their Ukranazi overseers, but the whole thing was rushed through without the further preparation that was planned, due to the imperative of distracting attention from the Artëmovsk disaster. Even the Pentagon, I think, is not delusional enough to believe a couple of platoons worth of Vlasovites and nazis could beat the Russian army.
https://readingjunkie.com/2023/05/23/what-was-the-point-of-the-belgorod-raid-and-was-the-usa-behind-it/ thinks, by the way, that it was a totally American directed operation, with the Vlasovites and nazis as just disposable tools, but he thinks the CIA actually imagined they’d succeed.
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thanks b p for pointing this out over at moa… i agree with you.. cheers james
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Why even give this Reading Junkie person time when he’s asserting a claim that you describe as “delusional” one sentence before. It would take a large portion of the Russian army to mutiny for this scenario to succeed. These rebels could never attain the numbers to have a significant impact.
And “Ian Kummer” also thought that it was the “LGBT Mafia” that’s been trying to overthrow Assad, and he echoes the rhetoric of United States Fascists in posts like https://readingjunkie.com/2023/05/06/what-the-jordan-neely-subway-incident-says-about-america/
Man, if the CIA actually believed this stunt would succeed in capturing a Russian province, then they are just as delusional now as they were at the Bay of Pigs. I see a lot of delusion in the Ukr-sphere as well: Excited trolls (in the early hours before their guys were chased away) writing how the Russian people would be so stimulated/inspired by this spectacle that they would immediately rise up against Putin. And more delusions about declaring a “Belgorod Peoples Republic” and immediately seceding to join Ukraine. These people really don’t understand Russian public opinion.
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yalensis, I have no intel background … but I DID report from a Cold War battleground for several years in the 1980s and early ’90s. During that period, CIA and DoS chose to believe, and repeat things about the situation in Afghanistan that were flatly, demonstrably untrue.
They were backed by a near-consensus of intel officials and diplomats from allied western countries, like the Brits (with the honorable exception of Alastair Crooke, who was still on active service at the time).
Their willful delusions involved both the military situation and sociopolitical matters such as the morale, levels of popular support and agendas of the various factions. None of these factors were especially hard to ascertain, if you were there ‘on the ground’ and made the effort.
As far as I could tell, the delusions were real – not just cynical talking points, affected in deference to political considerations. The untruths got markedly deeper and more systematic after the communist regime collapsed in 1992 and the mujahideen began fighting among themselves.
At the time, I wondered whether – since from the US perspective Afghanistan had abruptly become a policy backwater after the Red Army completed its withdrawal in 1989 – we simply ‘hadn’t sent our best people’ to that part of the world. I now know that wasn’t the case.
You mentioned Bay of Pigs. I just finished ‘The Brilliant Disaster,’ Jim Rasenberger’s excellent journalistic account of the affair. His account makes it plain that the dominant voices at CIA were convinced that Cubans really would rise up and overthrow Castro as soon as rebel forces established a beachhead. As the title reflects, it was our ‘best and brightest’ who miscalculated so badly.
It appears to me that self-deluded wishful thinking is somehow baked into CIA’s institutional mindset, and has been since the beginning.
I’m guessing the situation is as bad, or worse at MI6, which seems to take the lead in organizing Ukronazi provocations like Bucha and these cross-border raids.
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Thanks, John. You confirm what I have started to think, and that’s very scary. It’s quite difficult to deal with delusional people.
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thanks john… i really agree with you.. i wanted to like your post, but it appears i have to reply to you to tell you this! hopefully the nsa is collecting this valuable info and feedback, lol.. delusional is a good word to describe usa foreign policy and those directly involved in the madness..
The “like” button should work, as far as I know. But I personally think a comment is better than a “like” anyhow, and I am sure that John appreciates your support.
There’s no way these Contra-like groups could ever amass the numbers to have a significant effect in Belgorod oblast. There are no indications at all that these groups have any local support. This attack could never be any more than another Doolittle Raid; I don’t think that raid bothered the Japanese very much.
But you do have to note that the Russian army took an entire year to advance from Propasna 16 miles to Bakhmut. So the pro-Ukrainian bloggers have a point there.
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Russia from the beginning has not wanted to wage a war of blood or fire. Obviously they are trying to control the message that reaches other peoples of the world. Even their reactions to terrorist provocations are handled with great control.
And soon they will have to deal with missiles launched by planes from outside their border, Israel-style with Muslim countries in the region. It is what they are looking for with the F16 possibly piloted by Western military.
Ukraine is nothing new, from the war sustained by others to terrorism against the civilian population.
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” the Russian army took an entire year to advance from Propasna 16 miles to Bakhmut. So the pro-Ukrainian bloggers have a point there.”
No their point is based on hopium, dishonesty and ignorance,.
It is a 1,200 klm long front. So to measure small land gains, or losses, here or there is stupid and proves nothing for the NAZis.
As has been pointed out many times this needs comparing to a naval war to understand Russia’s tactics. It is not about seizing and holding some inconsequential sq klms of ocean, it is all about destroying the enemies assets in said ocean.
So many pro-Uke bloggers make the mistake of treating everything in this war like a linear function. You’ll read, for example, “It took 1 year for the Russians to move forward 30 kilometers. At this rate, they won’t get to Kiev until the year 2060.” I think the people who pen this sort of nonsense are either being dishonest, or they are 14 years old and just starting to study vector algebra.
People, this is NOT a linear function. It’s more like Integral Calculus. Once the Ukrainian army is depleted, the entire front could collapse in a single week.
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“trolls, all over the blogosphere”
and now Y, we have ours….spewing their nonsensical excrement with every keystroke.
Will these pathetic minions get to live their dream of living their life out on the government dole as social parasites? Or, will they have to leave their parents basement, find work and pay rent like the rest of society?
Well, that’s the one thing [DC/London] & their minions can still do to world standards…talk nonsensical excrement. Let’s see, “the axis of evil” is already taken, how shall we address the “we-must-destroy-Russia” cadre of fools?
How about “the nexus of nonsense”?
I know, tell me about it! There are so many trolls around nowadays you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. And, unlike elves, they don’t bake delicious cookies.
Just you wait for the AI trollez! Algorithms writing spam and wafting it about using machine-generated profiles. As low-quality as most trolling comments are, could you tell the difference between what comes from some twat in his underwear or what’s splotted by a Large Language Program? (As a linguistics person, what do you think of the whole zeitgeist of manipulated lingos, Yalensis? Is it a perversion, or an evolution of language itself?) On the bright side, maybe some of the unemployment that will caused by AI will fall on the mopes who get paid piece-rate to post rubbish. You know there must be some pimple (sic) making a living at that.
You’ll know the assault is on when your comment count goes to the hundreds in a day. All it will take is for you to be fingered as a counter-narrative site even ONCE. Then some infospook’s fingers will code your blog into the Spamalot matrix. Whatever rat does that, it will be the last human involvement in the wordwarfare. But the unhuman interference will will never stop. Until you quit writing. Coz the Deep Purpose of centrally organised trolling is not to CONVINCE anyone of anything. It’s to make dissidents STFU. “Fuck this puerile shit, it’s not worth the yuck factor, I’m turning off the lights.” The soft censorship of sick-of-it. Bad coments drive out the good bloggers.
1) AI spambots already exist! And no, their utterances cannot be distinguished from those of the sweaty underwear crew living in their mom’s basement and cheering for the Ukrainian army.
2) What do I think of manipulated lingo, perversion or evolution? The former! Robot lingo is so perverted that it makes Vitaly Klichko sound like [insert the name of some awesome intellectual noted for their verbal aptitude].
I’m sure Ukraine doesn’t need the west to dream up a plan like this, just provide the means and,,,the money.
The Ukrainians will be doing stunts like this forever, it’s nothing new but this time the west is in line to be paying them forever as well. It’s frustrating how long it takes for Russia to advance but understandable, the bonus for Russia though is the longer it goes on the more damage it does to the credibility of NATO and its wunder weapons and the economies of America’s vassals.
I know a lot of people, including myself, would love to flog the Russian army and force it to win faster. But the Russian army has to do it their own way, it has been that way since the dawn of time. Remember the Tale of Prince Igor’s Regiment? Igor rushed off to battle against the Polotvsi, against all good advice, and eager for a quick win. The result of too much haste: he had his ass handed to him by the Khan.
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“However, from a psychological point of view, such attacks are meant to shock and terrorize the Russian people. ”
After what has happened over the past ~ 100 years in and to Russia, is there anything left that will truly ‘terrorize’ the Russian people…?
One should never take a single brush and paint an entire population with it, but the 2 Russian guys I trained with were tough as nails. Calm, cool and composed. Focused like laser beans on the task/s at hand.
While it is true that much of the Russian bourgeoisie got used to the “good life” and are terribly annoyed that this war is getting in the way of their fun; yet ordinary Russians seem able to cope with the inconveniences and even danger. During the earlier Bryansk incursion of this same Ukrainian/Vlasov group, a young schoolboy named Fedya very calmly dealt with his schoolvan being shot up by the diversionaries. He helped his schoolmates escape, even though he himself sustained a slight injury. (He was later awarded a hero medal.)
This is the caliber of the people whom the terrorists expect to (a) greet them as liberators; and at the same time (b) fear them and quake in their boots.
Seem to recall reading (Pentagon leak, open source-does it matter?) that Zelensky proposed to the U.S. establishment some extra-curricula war tactics that were purportedly not well received by his sponsors. One of them was cross border raids into Russia.
On war day #455, this news item on the Belgorod Oblast incursion seems to fit into this scenario.
The “Russian anti-Putin resistance fighters” seems to me to be an arse-covering Pentagon add-on. ( The Pentagon does fear provoking Russia).
In the comedian Zelensky’s fevered imagination, hating all things Russian to distraction, he’s thinking “Vikings!”. Hence the “Thor’s rune” insignias.
I’ve never been that keen on those village plundering and raping Vikings, but they definitely had some success.
Some years back there was a very popular TV series on the Vikings. Their depiction seemed uncannily like ISIS, who were invoking horrors throughout Syria at the time. I thought then that this series would exacerbate Northern European fascist tendencies.
That’s the fantasy.
The reality, which you describe through your research of Russian media, yalensis, is that the relevant authorities have reacted in a thorough-going and humane way.
Everyday brings alarming news, but patience and faith is a Godsend.
I guess Russians have a plan and don’t want to be distracted by drastically widening the conflict with the West. I sometimes think that that is precisely what some in the West want but don’t want to be seen as being the ones taking that major step. Seems like the whole conflict is a Western provocation and they are trying to double-down.
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Yes, people know that I am often critical of the Russian government; but from what I can see in my research, Governor Gladkov did a good job with this crisis. He invoked the appropriate emergency measures in a timely fashion, took care of the population by evacuating them to a safe place, kept everybody informed; and most of all, he stayed on the spot so that people could see him there. (In other words, didn’t decide to take a sudden vacation, like some do!) Seems like he runs a tight enough ship.
Regarding the Vikings, in truth I don’t think the whole Viking thing is Zelensky’s idea. He’s just dealing with a bunch of Nazis who literally worship the ancient Norse Gods. Like Azov and the others, this Norse stuff is their idea, and they are obsessed with Ragnarok and all that jazz. I have to admit that I also like this mythology myself, which is part of the reason I am a big Wagner fan (I mean, the composer Wagner, The Ring Cycle, etc.), although I obviously do not pair it, in my own imagination, with Nazi ideology. To me it’s just fascinating stories.
Regarding the real Vikings, yeah, it seems like they were a bunch of terrorizing bullies, the English were very right to fear and detest them. Reminds me of the Monty Python skit, although in this version they cut it too short, at the end the old lady is supposed to say something like, “I get so sick of these bloody Vikings…”
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Yeah, Ukrainian probably doesn’t have a word for honour in it these days. The US and UK tossed it away years ago. So attacking civilians just because they’re Russians is fine by Ukrainia — soldiers or civilians, they’re all Russians, so let’s get ’em, seems to be as deep as the nazi lizard brain goes. Makes you wonder at Putin’s judgement of them as brothers and sisters who need to be bombarded softly, except for the true nazis of course, but they’re hard to single out from afar. Not sure if the ethnic Ukrainian Ukrainians feel much affinity for Russia, despite literal family ties and so on. The ones that escaped to the West seem pretty anti-Russian, but obviously have less skin in the game than the ones who remain. Difficult to judge, really.
Poor old Bakhmut. Literally razed to the ground. It was a pivotal strategic place a year ago, a road and rail hub. Now it’s hundreds of acres of rubble, nobody lives there, and it’s not important any more.
Meanwhile, the slow almost non-existent pace of the Russian offensive since last summer has allowed the Ukrainians to seriously landmine all of Western Donbass along the front. So a mass Russian offensive would likely mean a huge loss of armoured vehicles. Been reading about their mine flailers and sweepers — no breakthrough in technology there, unfortunately. It would be a tough slog to demine areas while under Ukie fire.
All of which leads unfortunately to a likely stalemate. All those bigger cities in the Donbass under current Ukie control may have to be similarly razed like Bakhmut to dislodge the Ukrainian insects from their nests. Altogether, not a pleasant prospect for Russia. No wonder Prigozhin has made a fortune with Wagner PMC. Mass casualties of actual Russian troops is currently adjudged a no-no by the Kremlin. But nobody cares about mercenary deaths and injuries. So the musicians prosper.
There has to be some really deep thinking going on in Moscow as to how to escape the current dilemma. But it’s a time sensitive project, despite their apparent protestations to the contrary. Air power alone isn’t going to subdue Ukraine, gotta have boots on the ground.
You’re right about the mines. People say that just de-mining Bakhmut alone might take months and an untold number of sappers. I don’t know much about de-mining technology, are you sure there isn’t a quicker way? Like, if they just chased a herd of rabbits across the fields, or something like that. Sounds inhumane, but I mean, they’re just rabbits.
Well, Ukraine isn’t Australia, where a hundred and sixty years ago, 24 introduced European rabbits multiplied to such an extent that when they advanced to new munching grounds, the drumming of their feet became a roar and let farmers know armageddon was on the way. One laughs, but just google Australian rabbit infestation, and stand back for the story from multiple sources. The problem exists to this day.
Mine clearance is no joke. Everyone seems to ignore it as pshaw, a mere inconvenience. Surely we have modern methods that can clear open ground in but a jiffy, after all, mankind went to the moon, etc. That’s the top down view. Nope. It’s a big problem, and setting rabbits to do the job, well, it’s an out-of-left field notion all right. I wonder if they’re heavy enough to do the job even if you could round up enough of the little blighters to make a “herd”.
Time to get a serious thinking cap on. I’m a retired mechanical engineer, and have been racking the old brain for several weeks trying to come up with a solution, like giant road rollers with tandem axles and wheels ten feet tall made out of steel to brush off the explosions. But I keep criticizing my own ideas and have gotten nowhere really. What I don’t know is if setting off a thermobaric bomb over an open field could do it. That would be quick. Otherwise, the “field” of demining is wide open for an innovative solution. But not rabbits.
In Africa Giant Pouched Rats have been trained to locate mines. It takes time and effort but it works.
Do the rats, er, just sniff out the mines? Or do they commit suicide on them?
My rabbit idea was only half in jest, because I vaguely remember reading something about soldiers (maybe of the Napoleonic era?) driving herds of cattle across mine fields. But cattle are too valuable to do that to them.
Sounds like Beluga is coming up with some technological solutions, maybe he will figure something out.
They don’t, thankfully, commit suicide.
That’s remarkable! Thanks for the video, horribly fascinating history. this being PBS, they omit to mention that the murderous Khmer Rouge later allied with the Americans, who even recognized them as the “legitimate” government of Cambodia, long after the Vietnamese army had driven them out. So, Americans doubly guilty in these woes that ordinary people have to endure.
Those rats are kind of cute, though.
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I love rats.
By the way, the Khmer Rouge must be the only monarchist Communist movement in history, and Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen was a Khmer Rouge in his youth before defecting to the Vietnamese side.