Of all President Vladimir Putin’s soldiers, the most feared are his tame Chechens, the renegades who betrayed their countrymen’s dream of independence and sided with the Kremlin. The Kadyrovites, loyal to their fascistic leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, have a reputation for merciless slaughter of the Kremlin’s enemies that chills the heart. I saw evidence of their work at first hand in the spring and summer of 2000 in Chechnya – beheadings, disappearances, torture – and when someone who has more or less supported Putin’s war in Syria DM’d me to say that the Chechens were coming to Kyiv, I felt a stab of fear.
So a YouTube video of a slew of burning Russian heavy metal in the streets outside the Antonov airbase near the town of Hostomel, just north of Kyiv, where the Chechens arrived to prosecute Putin’s war is the best proof yet that Putin’s war against Ukraine is going badly, very badly.
The evidence is now overwhelming that Putin has made a miscalculation, that the Kremlin hopelessly underestimated the resilience of the Ukrainian people, underestimated the ferocious courage of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, under planned the logistical nightmare of invading a huge country like Ukraine and never considered that Russian soldiers, ordered to invade Ukraine, might mutiny.
The battle for the Antonov airbase started on Feb. 24th, when video showed the sky full of troop-carrying Russian choppers. Three were shot down; dozens got through to land their troops on the ground. The exact time sequence is hard to follow but at some point CNN filmed Russian soldiers looking relaxed on the ground. By 7p.m. Russian forces controlled the airbase. Two hours later, after nightfall, Ukrainian special forces hit the airport and, they say, took back control. The next day Russian forces, including the Chechens, headed down from Belarus and retook the airport, preparing an air bridge for much larger numbers of Russians to follow through.
When a Chechen armored column left the air base and moved toward Kyiv, the Ukrainians launched a Turkish-made drone, a Bayraktar, that reportedly charred 70 soldiers alive. The burning wreckage is what the video shows. The Ukrainians say that the dead included Gen. Magomed Tushayev, head of the 141st Motorized Brigade. Kadyrov has posted that the general is still with us and it’s impossible at the time of this writing to know who is right. Locals are not reporting any more fighting. One concludes that the two Russian attacks on the Antonov air base failed. The two attacks should have happened at the same time. They didn’t. Lack of organization, planning, did for both. [Continue reading…]
Germany will boost military spending above 2% of GDP and create a strategic natural-gas reserve, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Sunday, marking a significant shift in the country’s defense and energy policies in reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The measures, all of which had long been resisted by successive governments and will now be reflected in this year’s budget, underline how profoundly Russia’s attack on Ukraine is upending European politics after almost eight decades of nearly uninterrupted peace on the continent.
“We have to ask ourselves: What capacities does Putin’s Russia have? And which capacities do we need to counter his threats?” Mr. Scholz told parliament, gathered for an extraordinary session on Sunday. “It’s clear, we will need to invest a lot more in the security of our country to defend our freedom and our democracy.”
“Putin wants to establish a Russian empire…the question is…whether we can summon the strength to set boundaries to warmongers like Putin,” Mr. Scholz said. [Continue reading…]