Conquering of Soledar and Other Updates (2023-01-11)

According to Wagner Group’s owner Evgeniy Prigozhin, Soledar is being fully controlled by his forces. The “Twice Hero of the Russian Federation” was carful in noting that it is his forces, and his forces alone that brought this great victory to Russian war efforts. “Fully controlled” doesn’t mean the fighting is over in Soledar, but only that the remaining Ukrainian forces are now surrounded and expected to be destroyed or taken prisoners.

The fighting for Soledar is a component of the larger battle for Artemovsk (Bakhmut) and its surrounding areas. If and then the Artemovsk will be taken, it will be a tactical victory, and Ukrainian forces will move back to the next defense line, then the fighting will start all other again. At least that is the impression, based on the current development. So, military speaking, the conquering of the Soledar or Artemovsk for that matter is nearly meaningless. Only positives are a pushback of Ukrainian artillery and rocket systems a bit farther from Donetsk (which will make the terrorizing of its citizens a little bit more difficult) and the possibility of encirclement of Ukrainian troops, with following surrender into Russian captivity. Though, if the first point is undeniable, the second might have some caveats.

According to Prigozhin, the Ukrainian troops in the center of the town are surrounded and will be captured. According to Strelkov, most of Soledar “defenders” escaped the encirclement and now manning defences on the outskirts of the town. At best, a few hundred of Ukrainian garrison have been abandoned into encirclement to slow down the conquest of Soledar. A few hundred will make no noticeable difference, considering the sacrificial personnel that gets left behind are usually the least “valuable” ones to the Ukrainian regime and its Western allies. Moreover, recently Russia has been exchanging prisoners in nearly 1-for-2 scheme, meaning one Russian prisoner of war for ~2 Ukrainian ones. It’s by itself is a great travesty, devaluating the lives of Russian POWs in Ukrainian captivity — no need to keep them alive if the remaining ones can be exchanged for 2 or 3 or more Ukrainian POWs. And this comes after Russia agreed to exchange the Ukrainian POWs handpicked by Ukrainian side, while the Russian POWs there selected by Ukrainians as well. The one noticeable exception from this rule is Ukrainian politician and oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, the close ally of US-backed Poroshenko, who was rescued by president Rasputin from the inconvenience of Ukrainian detention.

In summary, after about half a year of great loses due to the “banging its head” on Artemovsk defense line, Wagner Group managed to almost take one of its components – Soledar. No one should be fooled by thinking this is some anything more than a pyric victory. This is exactly how the West want’s the war to unfold – a very slow grind of both militaries, kilometer or two in a month or so. Then Ukrainian forces will be pushed all the way back to the left bank of Dnepr River (the greatest defence line they have), losses on both sides (military as well as civilian) will be unbearable. That is why both sides are preparing reserves in hopes of deep offensive operations later this year. Russians at around February (by my guestimates), and Ukrainians a bit later around March.


Russia gave verbal assurances to Kazakhstan that it will provide its oil pipelines for crude transit to Germany. Currently about 20,000 tons of crude oil is expected to flow via Russian Druzhba pipeline to Germany in January. Germany, which refuses to purchase Russian oil, is hoping to get Kazakh oil instead though Russian territory. The Kazakh minister of energy Bolat Akchulakov explained that this will be the first batch of up to 1.5 million tones planned to be provided to Germany via Russia. Kazakhstan, he says, is able to provide up to 6 million ton of crude oil this way, yet the actual demand in Germany is even greater, according to him.

Naturally, we see Russia enabling the economy of its adversary, the Germany, for some unexplained reason. It is entirely possible, the actual scheme will be providing Russian oil to Germany as Kazakh oil, while the similar amount of Kazakh oil will be sold or consumed by Russia. Though the first batch, the above mentioned 20,000 tones, will be supplied from the actual Kazakhstan, the Karachaganak oil field. But the rest might as well come from Russian fields in the west of the country entirely, or mixed with actual Kazakh crude.

The other option, much less financially prudent one, is to actually supply the crude all the way from Kazakhstan to Germany. This will result in relatively high transportation costs, which would benefit the Russian pipelines operators, and those costs will be absorbed by consumers in Germany. But it would also mean that Russia will have less available capacity in its oil pipelines, exporting crude to Eastern Europe.

In any case, the major benefactors of this deal, geopolitically speaking, will be energy-starved Germany and export-restricted Kazakhstan.


Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine. According to Politico, Turkey will be sending the 155-mm artillery cluster munition rounds to Ukraine. Those are “dual-purpose improved conventional munition”, or DPICM, which are deemed to be unreliable enough to endanger not only military targets but also civilians, who happen to disturb one of the undetonated submunitions long after it has been shot.

Under US law, Uncle Sam is prohibited from exporting these rounds for humanitarian reason. But the way around it for them to be exported from Turkey instead (while Uncle Sam will pay for them, of course).

Yet again, the best buddy of president Rasputin pay Russian back in kindness for their revival of Turkey’s economy. What gift shall we expect next time, after the Bayraktar drones, armored vehicles, forbidden ammunition, warships — all supplied to Ukraine during its war against Russia, with unrests in Nagorni Karabakh and Syria on top? I expect Rasputin to award Erdogan with Order of Friendship or some other type of highest diplomatic medal for all his efforts towards the peace and conciliation. My only regret is that Rasputin himself won’t be getting any Turkish awards, at least not until he’ll sign some “peace agreement”, relinquishing Donbass and maybe Crimea to (then) Greater Poland.


In more “positive” news, Russian state-owned railroad operator “Russian Railroads” (RZhD) has come out with an initiative to field first hydrogen-powered locomotives in 2025. In times then the railroad capacities are under great stress from increased trade with China and is experiencing long shipping delays of consumer goods, to the point of restricting some “non-critical” shipping, it has now taken on itself to promote an alternative energy propulsion in a country which produces more energy than it can possibly consume or export.

Traditionally, the railroad is the most important transportation infrastructure for Russia. The first priority should be expanding its capacities, modernizing and expanding the locomotive fleet, building containers. Many Russian locomotives were abandoned in Ukraine or other “unfriendly” countries after the start of the war. The foreign companies that leased shipping containers left Russia. The imported airliners are now being returned back or “nationalized” without any hope for their proper maintenance or available spare parts. The second priority should be redesigning the almost two century-old 5-ft railroad gauge standard to allow for more efficient transportation of goods and passengers with higher speed, while increasing its safety.

To make the news even more “positive”, the company explains: “‘The provision is for the maximal usage of domestic components’. Yet at the first stage the hydrogen cells and hydrogen storage systems used would be imported.”

So, not only a totally pointless project is being pushed forward during the time of crisis, but the intention is also to use imported systems — more in the first stage, less later. I guess all that Yuan foreign reserves, that are now approved to reach 80% of all foreign currency Russian central bank holds, will not be laying without use after all.


Russian ministries are trying to lure the fled IT-workers back to Russia. The new initiatives would include “absolution” from the mobilization and paid ticket back home. This is as close to official confirmation that the botched-up “Special military operation” and even more botched-up “partial mobilization” compelled tens of thousands of highly needed (and mostly young) IT professionals to flee Russia, saving themselves from the fabulous incompetency of the Russian MoD officials.

Actually, the job market is high on demand right now. Another, unforeseen consequence of the beneficial Western sanctions on Russian economy. While large number of migrant workers returned to their respective countries, and many foreign companies that found cheap but highly qualified labor in Russia also left, the demand for workers and the proposed salaries skyrocketed. Of course, the 300,000 totally randomly mobilized men are also caused some work positions to open up. Even the previously “unemployable” 40+ (or, Zeus forbid 50+) year old men and women now can find more employment opportunities with suitable working conditions. It turns out the more mature workers have higher work culture, more responsible, have good education and highly qualified. Who could have imagined?!

At least, until the current anti-popular government will find a way to ruin this positive as they ruined the strengthening ruble, the prospects of gold backed ruble, and decreasing interest rates.


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