The Crimean bridge explosion, the capture of high-ranking generals and threatening messages to the occupiers are all good signs that Russia is facing significant challenges, believes Darius Antanaitis, a retired major and military expert, Enrika Gecaitė is writing at the lrytas.lt news portal.
He discussed the latest developments in the war in Ukraine on the “Lietuvos rytas” TV programme “Nauja diena” (New Day).
Some aspects are encouraging
Early Monday morning, there were reports of explosions on a bridge in Crimea, with Russia accusing Ukraine of launching an attack on the bridge connecting the Russian mainland with Crimea.
Although the Ukrainians do not confirm that the bridge was damaged on their initiative, Antanaitis did not rule out the possibility that it could have been a special operation by the Ukrainian military.
“Of course, because the bridge is a military target. It is the bridge that transports all the ammunition, equipment and troops to the occupied territories of Ukraine. Therefore, it is a very good and clear military target, which must be destroyed in order to complicate Russian logistical operations”, stressed the retired major and military expert.
According to Antanaitis, it is not the soldiers who are fighting the war but the resources.
“Whoever runs out of resources sooner loses, and in order to run out of resources sooner, you have to help them to run out. Explosions like this are exactly that, helping resources to run out.
Of course, the less ammunition the Russians have on the front line, the easier it will be for the Ukrainians to clear their territory of invaders,” explained the military expert.
More recently, it was also reported that the Russian Ministry of Defence has started dismissing the commanders of some of the Russian army’s most powerful units and formations. And it seems to be accelerating this effort. This time, Major General Vladimir Seliverstov has been removed as commander of the Tula 106th Airborne Division.
It is noted that this division has been involved in battles in Ukraine since January this year, in the direction of Bakhmut.
Mr Antanaitis believes that this behaviour by the Kremlin is a very good and hopeful sign on the war front.
“Nobody changes horses while you’re trying to cross a ford – you don’t change them in the middle of the road. Especially when such a large number of generals are replaced. First of all, it’s a change of commanding personnel because people who knew the real situation on the front are arrested, new people are coming in, and they need time to find out what’s going on and how it’s going on – that’s one thing.
The second thing is that it shows the extent of Prokhozhin’s influence if so many Russian generals have now been removed. And the third thing is that it shows that the rebellion is not yet over because, after all, the people who have been taken out also have some supporters and some allies, and it is not over yet.
The rebellion is just beginning to ignite”, the retired Major believes.
Over the weekend, information also emerged about the movement of Wagner mercenaries and equipment in Belarus. Asked whether an attempt to break through the Suvalki corridor to Kaliningrad was likely, Antanaitis said that there would be no purpose for the group to move there at all.
“Any action must have a purpose. The other thing is who is this “Wagner” – let’s remember what makes him special. Not because he has excellent combat training but because these are people without records. This is meat.
The fact that they were just dying in Bachmut or going without weapons – that’s all that Wagner is. These are criminals who have been in prison, who have AIDS, arthritis, haemorrhoids, and rotten mouths, and that is all we know about them. It is not worth expecting something miraculous from them.
It would be much more important if 16 000 Russian troops with heavy weapons suddenly appeared on Belarusian territory and nuclear capability was activated. That would be a major challenge”, the expert said.
He assessed the threats against Russian troops
It is also true that there are reports of relatives of the occupying Russians in the Russian capital and in the Moscow region receiving letters saying, “We know everything”. UNIAN recently reported this.
The Russian media described this event on the basis of relevant complaints from Muscovites on social networks. Russians are posting pictures of notes found in mailboxes, as well as on doors and cars. The slips of paper, which read “You are the sister/wife/mother of the killer”, also include the number of the regiment, company and platoon in which the Russian serviceman serves.
According to Antanaitis, this is an example of a perfect psychological operation, which is also encouraging.
“Leaflets saying that we know where you are is a perfect psychological operation when you send them and say – I know who you are, where you are and how to find you. This is an absolutely perfect example of psychological surgery.
A psychological operation aims to influence the mood and the opinion of a hostile target audience so that the mood and opinion influence their behaviour. If I am fighting somewhere and my family gets the message that I know who you are, where your husband is, and you are a murderer or a killer, and my wife calls me, says, I got this, and I got that, of course, I do not trust anyone.
My family is more important to me than some leader or Putin. I am terrified that my children will be killed, raped and burnt.
Of course, fear is sown, and that fear inside then becomes the reason for a change in behaviour”, explained Antanaitis.
In his general assessment of the situation on the war front, the retired Major also welcomed the fact that the Russian army is already having to use its reserves on the battlefield.
“It is very important that the Russians are starting to use their reserves – if they use their reserves, it means that the counter-attack is successful.
The point of a counter-attack is not to take a village, a village or a piece of swamp but to destroy the enemy’s strategic reserve so that after the counter-attack, the enemy will not be able to resist, will surrender or will be completely destroyed,” stressed the warfare expert.