- Print This Post Print This Post

By John Helmer, Moscow

To an alien from another planet, where curiosity starts with naivety, the question is being asked why earthlings calling themselves the state media of Russia report analysis of an attack on the most obvious symbol of their state from two Americans who have spent their active service careers sworn to defeat what that symbol stands for — one of them in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the other in the US Marine Corps (USMC).

Having retired years ago, and lacking access to the secret CIA and USMC intelligence which  was once their stock in trade, everything they know about Russia comes – they sometimes admit – from Russia.

The naïve but curious alien might therefore be forgiven for asking the earthlings to explain why the following headlines in the Russian state news agency Sputnik could possibly be believable – at least to an alien: “Former CIA Officer Reveals Possible Motive Behind Kremlin Drone Attack”; and “Scott Ritter on Kremlin Strike: Zelensky Gov ‘Now a Legitimate Target’”.

How could these two retired warfighting soldiers against Russia possibly know?

The answer to this, the alien acknowledges,  he can’t answer directly. So he has asked twelve  naïve questions in this TNT Radio broadcast of  War of the Worlds.  

Question 1. How many drones, one or two, detonated over the Senate building dome in the Kremlin on the evening of May 2-3?  Answer: Two (lead images, left and centre). Click to watch the first drone attack here.   The first and second drone videoclips have been presented in sequence by Andrew Napolitano here.   

Question 2. How much time elapsed between the drone detonations? Answer: About 15-16 minutes.

Question 3: From what direction and on what trajectory did each of the drones fly at their target? Answer: The first from the northeast; the second from the southeast.

Question 4: At what speed? Answer: Slow. Official investigators know precisely the speed and also flight time from launch.  

Question 5: Measured by the visual flame, smoke, sound, and debris on the dome and on the ground below,  what was the relative explosive power in TNT equivalent for each drone, if any explosive at all? Answer: Next to no explosive payload, possibly none at all.

Question 6: Were security men on the dome roof just before the first drone detonation, between the first and second detonations, or after the second had occurred? Answer: Evidence inconclusive.

Question 7: What photographs of the drone debris on roof and ground have been published? Answer: None.   

Question 8: From the debris on the dome roof and on the ground below what was the source of the explosive? Answer: no information after more than 72 hours.

Question 9: What was the type of drone, model, manufacturer, and country of origin? Answer: no information after more than 72 hours.  

Question 10: From what has been learned from the debris, the trajectory records, the flight speed, and the control mechanism, what were the launch locations in the Moscow area or outside it, and the distance from launch to the Kremlin? Answer: no official information released yet.

Question 11: The drones in the video records of the attack appear to be relatively short-range. Is there any CCTV or witness surveillance video recording from the surrounding areas from which the drones could have been launched?  Answer: No official information. This social media source claims without corroboration that “the drones were spotted in the suburbs”. The source also concedes drone- spotting false alarms are common.   

Question 12: Have any specific suspects been identified? No.

Substituting for answers to these questions, western media interpreters have focused on motive. They claim to interpret the drone attack as either a Ukrainian provocation, which will now provide the rationale for a Russian retaliatory strike to decapitate the Ukrainian leadership. Or alternatively, a false flag operation to revive flagging Russian public support for the war, or to escalate Russian targeting west of the Dnieper River.

Source: https://sputnikglobe.com/

Source: https://sputnikglobe.com/20230504/
For more state media coverage of the incident from Sputnik News,  click to read   and https://sputnikglobe.com/

There is no evidence in the Levada Centre polling reported over the past fortnight of any change of Russian public sentiment, neither in approval of President Vladimir Putin’s performance — above 80% for the past six months —   nor in support of the Russian Army’s conduct of the war.

Putin is on record as telling French and Israeli officials for a year now there would be no Russian targeting of President Vladimir Zelensky. This is notwithstanding endorsements of Putin’s assassination by US and Ukrainian officials;     and the targeting of Putin in the March 17 indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes by the president.   

The reason for the non-retaliatory assurances in Russian policy has been misunderstood. It is the Russian assessment that there can be no motive for Moscow since Zelensky is so plainly a US-directed puppet, his retention in office, replacement, or removal is up to the US to decide – and it suits Russian war policy that it will remain so. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, made the point elliptically in his comment on the motive behind the drone attack. “We know very well that decisions about such actions, about such terrorist attacks, are made not in Kiev but in Washington…This is also often dictated from across the ocean … In Washington they must clearly understand that we know this.”  

In the May 3 morning, just hours after the attacks, former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the Security Council, issued a different assessment. “After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left other than the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique.” For the achievement of Ukrainian capitulation, Medvedev added, Zelensky is “not even needed for signing an instrument of unconditional surrender. Hitler, as is known, did not sign it either. There will always be some substitute.”   

The Security Council usually meets Putin every week on Fridays, but it skipped its session on April 28. On May 5, two days after the drone attack, the council meeting was reported in the Kremlin communiqué as discussing “a number of issues related to preparations for Victory Day celebrations”.  Absent from this session were Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was reportedly on an armour inspection tour in Nizhny Novgorod,   and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was in India.   

Igor Strelkov (Igor Girkin), a well-known critic of Russian policy towards Kiev and of operational performance by the General Staff,   has published a mocking interpretation of the drone attack hinting at different motives, different perpetrators:  

For more on the Tsar Cannon of 1586, read this.

“Ukrainian militants are trying to disrupt negotiations on the extension of the ‘grain deal’. The wrong ones were attacked! It’s barbaric to bomb cultural objects! But we are not like that! Our president works in a bunker! Ha-ha-ha! And the stupid Ukrainians flew to bomb the Kremlin! Ha-ha-ha! The formidable Russian Silence is our response to any provocations! Both unmanned aerial vehicles have been shot down — there is nothing to worry about! And the smoke was from the Tsar Cannon from which they were shot down. The Kremlin’s air defence is in safe hands! Perhaps it was not even Ukrainian nationalists who did it, but their secret accomplices, the ‘turbopatriots’!”

Listen now to the broadcast, first segment:  

In the second and third segments,  two recent public statements by Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief executive and commander of the Wagner military company, are analysed.

In the first, filmed on the evening of May 3 or 4, Prigozhin attacked Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, with a stream of obscenities, accusing them of depriving the Wagner units of ammunition and causing rising combat deaths;  Prigozhin displayed the corpses in his film.   

Source, with English subtitles (expletives deleted).  

In his second video statement, apparently supplied to the Moscow press on the morning of May 5, Prigozhin announced the withdrawal of the Wagner units from Artemovsk (Bakhmut) on May 10.  

Source: https://www.rbc.ru/

Public criticism by Russians of the conduct of the campaign in the Ukraine by military leaders is neither new nor exceptional. Prigozhin, as well as the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, have gone to the press before in criticism of operational plans, supplies and money – and in hope of drawing more for themselves. However, this is the first display of such vitriol addressed by a senior combat unit commander to Shoigu, Gerasimov, and also the “Supreme Commander in Chief” – Putin.

The open display has provoked in Moscow much more detailed analysis of rates of ammunition use and resupply, casualty rates, and other operational issues than is allowed in Washington or in Kiev. The US Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, have stopped all press releases, meeting readouts, and other news bulletins since the Pentagon Papers leaked particulars of their negative situation reports on the Ukraine battlefield on April 6.   

In a regular military chain of command, Prigozhin’s statements amount to military court  insubordination.  As a civilian, the wording of Prigozhin’s attacks are a violation of the newly enacted law against “public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in order to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security, including public calls to prevent the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the specified purposes, or to discredit the performance by state bodies of the Russian Federation of their powers outside the territory of the Russian Federation in the specified goals.”   Enforcing the earlier, year-old  version of this law, prosecutors have sent 4,800 cases to court.  On conviction, the legislation provides for heavy fines and imprisonment of up to five years.

That Prigozhin was confident of his immunity from prosecution in launching his tirade indicates official protection. His swearing, gesticulating, and facial contortions indicate staging, not for the Russian audience but for US and Ukrainian commanders and the western media. They are reporting Prigozhin’s statements as evidence of demoralization of Russian army units, logistical failures, insufficient ammunition, and vulnerability to the planned Ukrainian offensive due to start this month. The withdrawal from Artemovsk/Bakhmut by the Wagner forces also appears to be luring fresh Ukrainian reinforcements into the area.

“On May 10, 2023, we are forced,” Prigozhin’s second statement claimed, “to transfer [our Bakhmut] positions to the units of the Ministry of Defense.  On March 16, when things didn’t go according to plan, we were asked to help. On March 19 [2022], the units arrived from Africa and immediately entered the battle on the run. We entered at the toughest place, in the centre of the fortified area of Popasnaya, and by May 9, 2022, we had captured the settlement. Then, in order to save the army, which fled shamefully from the Izyum and the Krasny Estuary, they occupied the front line for more than 130 kilometres and restrained the onslaught of the enemy. On October 8, in order to give the army a break, in order to draw all the [Ukrainian] forces on to themselves, the operation ‘Bakhmut meat grinder’was launched. Selfish Russian individuals  have claimed success and a good result, and that has caused some figures, pseudo-military bureaucrats from the Ministry of Defense, to be crushed by a goon, speaking in Russian.  We received no more than 30% of the needs, so our losses were much higher than they should have been. A month ago, they stopped giving us ammunition and we get no more than 10%. We were going to capture Bakhmut by May 9. But after seeing this, the pseudo-military bureaucrats actually stopped all deliveries from May 1. They sit and shake their fat bellies and think that they will go down in history as the winners. I am officially informing the Chief of the General Staff [Gerasimov], the Minister of Defense [Shoigu], the Supreme Commander-in-Chief [Putin]: my guys will not bear losses in Bakhmut, uselessly and unjustifiably, without ammunition. From May 10, we are leaving Bakhmut. We have still to take 2.5 kilometres out of 45. But if, because of your petty envy, you don’t want to give victory to the Russians, that’s your problem. We are waiting for the order to leave Bakhmut. Until the 9th, despite the fact that we have almost run out of ammunition, we will stay in Bakhmut so that on this sacred holiday we do not shame the brilliance of Russian weapons. Then we will go to the rear camps. We will wait until the people of Russia need us again. I think it’s about to happen. Because you are not able to manage the responsibility placed on you.”   

Peskov responded in non-committal fashion:  “Of course, we have seen it in the media. But I can’t comment on it because it concerns the course of the special military operation.”   

Was Prigozhin running a deception operation aimed at Kiev and Washington? For earlier assessment of the Tar Baby lure in Russian military operations, click to read this from April 2022:  

Shortly after Saturday’s TNT radio broadcast went to air, Prigozhin published a third statement. This sets out in professional detail and tone his case for Wagner’s combat requirements in the Bakhmut battle, and at rest camp, following the Wagner withdrawal planned to begin on May 10. Chechen units will replace the Wagner forces at the same time, it has been announced to the press.  

Prigozhin’s new statement runs for 41 paragraphs, 1,800 words, without a single expletive. In length and construction it is unlike any verbal or written text Prigozhin has made public before.

Prigozhin repeats the line of criticism he has made before of Defense Ministry planning and army operations, but he acknowledges at the same time the limited operational role the ministry (Shoigu) and General Staff (Gerasimov) have assigned Wagner – with Prigozhin’s agreement. “Operation Bakhmut Meat Grinder [was] an assault on the settlement of Bakhmut in order to provoke Vladimir Zelensky to throw in as many forces as possible to hold Bakhmut. In Bakhmut, we pulverized the Ukrainian armed forces [AFU], hence the name – ‘Bakhmut meat grinder’.  The purpose of the operation…was to enable the regular units of the Russian army to occupy advantageous defence lines, to mobilize, retrofit, train personnel and increase their combat potential.  The term of the operation, decided with Army General S[ergei] Surovikin, was agreed for a period of 6 months (conditionally until April 8, 2023).”

The assignment for Wagner was thus already coming to its operational close last month;  the date of withdrawal Prigozhin had earlier agreed to with Shoigu and Gerasimov meant the cutoff of fresh ammunition deliveries which Prigozhin admits took effect on May 1.

“The settlement of Bakhmut has no strategic significance for further progress to the west,” Prigozhin went on. “Of strategic importance for the advance of the Russian army is the capture of the settlements of Kramatorsk, Slavyansk, Druzhkovka, Konstantinovka – the ‘Donbass Ring’, to the west of which flat territories open up, in which it is difficult for the AFU to maintain defence in the event of an offensive by superior forces of the Russian army…It should be noted that the Operation Bakhmut Meat Grinder was designed principally, not to capture the settlement of Bakhmut, but to grind up the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and organize a respite for the Russian army to restore combat capability.  The Bakhmut Meat Grinder has fully fulfilled its task.”

Is this Prigozhin’s admission that his role in the Battle of Bakhmut had served the tar-baby strategem? If so, the reduction in ammunition supplies – what he calls “shell hunger” – was part of the operational plan he had agreed in advance, more than six months ago. And if that’s so, then the vituperation of Prigozhin’s first and second statements was more of the same tar-baby ploy; that is, deception for the enemy.

The combat operations calculus presented in the new Prigozhin paper is theoretical without revealing Russian operational intelligence of the Ukrainian combat capabilities inside the Bakhmut battlefield; nor the air, artillery and other infantry support provided on the flanks of the Wagner units by the regular army forces. Prigozhin has also left out of his published calculation the attrition on the Ukrainian side. How that severely reduced troop force, running out of ammunition and fresh arms, could inflict the increased casualty rate among the Wagner forces Prigozhin doesn’t explain.

Read the full text here.   

Leave a Reply