I mean, we all knew ‘to some extent’ that Russia wasn’t doing all that well. But I don’t think any of us knew the extent to which they were avoiding an extremely painful, yet inevitable convergence of events at once.
English translation of leaked FSB rant from 2 months ago. Is ringing true.
Bellingcat (award-winning investigative journalists focused on Russia) says in the above thread that their FSB contacts say it sounds plausible. Bellingcat is a reliable source, which makes this leak interesting.
Even so, grain of salt, etc. Here's a rough translation of the text of the leak:
"I’ll be honest right away: I have hardly slept all these days. Almost all the time at work my head is floating, as if it were in a fog. And sometimes I'm overworked and convinced that none of this is real.
To be honest, Pandora's Box is open. A real global horror will begin by the summer - global famine is inevitable (Russia and Ukraine were the main suppliers of grain in the world, this year's harvest will be smaller, and logistical problems will bring the catastrophe to a peak point).
I can't tell you what guided those at the top when deciding on the operation, but now they are methodically lowering all the dogs on us (the FSB). We are scolded for analytics - this is very much up my wheelhouse, so let me explain.
Recently, we have been increasingly pressed to customize reports to the requirements of management - I once touched on this topic. All these political consultants, politicians and their retinue, influence teams - all this created strong chaos.
Most importantly, no one knew that there would be such a war, they hid it from everyone. Here's an example for you: you are asked (conditionally) to calculate the possibility of human rights protection in different conditions, including if prisons were to be hit by meteorites. You specify meteorites as insurance for calculations, they tell you nothing like this will really happen.
You understand that the report will be just for show, but you need to write in a victorious style so that there are no questions. They ask, why do you have so many problems, did you really work badly? In general, a report is being written that when a meteorite falls, we have everything to eliminate the consequences, we are great, everything is fine. And you concentrate on tasks that are real - we don’t have enough strength anyway. And then suddenly they really throw meteorites and expect that everything will be according to your analytics, which weren't to be taken seriously.
That is why we have a total clusterfuck - I don’t even want to pick another word. There is no protection from sanctions for the same reason: well, it’s quite possible that [Russian Central Bank head] Nabiullina will be accused of negligence (rather, the switchmen from her team), but what are they to blame for? No one knew that there would be such a war, so no one prepared for such sanctions. This is the reverse side of secrecy: since no one was told, then who could calculate what no one knew about?
Kadyrov is going crazy. And his anger almost started with us: perhaps even the Ukrainians threw in misinformation that it was we who handed over the routes of Kadyrov's special forces in the first days of the operation. They were marching without cover, they had not yet begun to fight, and they were simply torn to pieces in some places. Off we go: it was the FSB that leaked the routes to the Ukrainians. I do not have such information, but I will still give it a 1-2% chance of being true (it cannot be ruled out at all either).
The blitzkrieg failed. It is simply impossible to complete the task now: if Zelensky and the authorities were captured in the first 1-3 days, they seized all the key buildings in Kyiv, they gave them the order to surrender - then yes, the resistance would subside. In theory. But what's next? Even with this ideal scenario, there was an unsolvable problem: with whom to negotiate? If we depose Zelensky, well, with whom should we sign agreements?
If we sign agreements with Zelensky before we depose him, those papers are worth nothing. The opposition party refused to cooperate: Medvedchuk is a coward, he fled. There is a second leader in that party - Boyko, but he refuses to work with us - even his own people will not understand him. They wanted to return Tsarev, but even our pro-Russian people turned against him. Return Yanukovych? But as? If we say that Ukraine is impossible to occupy, then any of our authorities will be killed there in 10 minutes, as we leave.
Occupy? Where are we going to get so many people? Commandant's offices, military police, counterintelligence, security - even with minimal resistance from the locals, we need 500 thousand or more people. And that's not even counting logistics. There is a rule that by using a high quantity of management to make up for poor quality, you spoil everything. And this, I repeat, would be with the ideal option, which does not exist.
What now? We cannot announce mobilization for two reasons:
Large-scale mobilization will undermine the situation inside the country: political, economic, social.
Our logistics are already overstretched today. Our contingent would be many times larger, and what will we get? Ukraine is a hefty country in terms of territory. And now the level of hatred towards us is going through the roof. Our roads simply won't be able to handle such supply caravans - everything will come to a standstill. And we won't manage to recover - because it's chaos.
And these two reasons occur at the same time, although even one is enough to break everything off.
Losses: I don't know how many there are. Nobody knows. For the first two days there was still control, now no one knows what is going on there. You can lose large units in communication. They can be found, or they can be attacked and dissolve. Even the commanders may not know how many of them are running around somewhere nearby, how many died, how many are in captivity. The number of deaths is definitely in the thousands. Maybe 10 thousand, maybe 5, or maybe only 2. Even at the headquarters they don’t know for sure. But it should be closer to 10. And that's without counting the DPR and LPR, they do their own accounting.
Now, even if Zelensky is killed, captured, nothing will change. Ukraine is like Chechnya in terms of hatred towards us. Even those who were once loyal to us are now against us. Because it was planned from above, because we were told that this wouldn't happen unless we were attacked. Because they explained that it was necessary to create the most credible threat in order to peacefully agree on the right conditions. Because we were initially preparing protests within Ukraine against Zelensky. But these didn't account for our direct entry. Our invasion, to put it simply.
Further civilian losses will increase exponentially - and resistance to us will also only increase. They already tried to enter the cities with infantry - out of twenty landing groups, only one had a conditional success. Remember the assault on Mosul - after all, this is the rule, it was the same for all countries, nothing new.
Keep under siege? According to the experience of military conflicts in the same Europe in recent decades (Serbia is the largest testing ground here), cities can be under siege for years, and even function. Humanitarian convoys from Europe will arrive there in a matter of time.
We have a conditional deadline of June. Conditional - because in June we have no economy left. Nothing will remain. By and large, next week there will be a turning point in one of the sides, simply because the situation is stressed to the breaking point. There are no analytics - it is impossible to calculate the chaos, no one can say anything for sure. Act intuitively, and even on emotions - but this is not poker. Rates will rise, in the hope that suddenly some option will shoot through. The trouble is that we, too, can now miscalculate and lose everything in one move.
By and large, the country has no way out. There is no option for a possible victory. We 100% repeated the beginning of the last century [the Russo-Japanese War], when we decided to kick weak Japan and get a quick victory... then it turned out that our army was in trouble. They started the war to the bitter end, then they began to take the Bolsheviks for "re-education" into the army - after all, they were outcasts, uninteresting to anyone in the masses. And then, the Bolsheviks, who were not really known to anyone, picked up anti-war slogans and it all started...
From the pros: we did everything so that even a hint of the mass sending of "penalty boxes" to the front line did not pass. If you send convicts and "socially unreliable" political prisoners there (so that they don't mess with public opinion inside the country) - the morale of the army will simply go into the negative. The enemy is motivated, terribly motivated. He knows how to fight, there are enough middle-level commanders there. There are weapons. They have support. We will simply set a precedent for human loss in the world. And that's it.
What we are most afraid of: at the top, they act according to the rule of overlapping the old problem with a new problem. Largely for this reason, the Donbass of 2014 began - it was necessary to divert the attention of Westerners from the topic of the Russian spring in Crimea, so the Donbass crisis, it seems, should have drawn all the attention to itself and become the subject of bargaining. But there were even bigger problems. Then they decided to push Erdogan on 4 pipes of the South Stream [a Russian pipeline through Turkey] and we entered Syria - this is after Soleimani lied in order to solve his problems. As a result, it was not possible to close the issue with Crimea, there are also problems with the Donbass, the South Stream has shrunk to 2 pipes, and Syria has hung with another headache (if we go out, they will demolish Assad, which will make us look like idiots, but it’s also difficult and useless to sit).
I don't know who came up with the "Ukrainian Blitzkrieg". If we were given real input on the original plan, we would at least indicate that it would be controversial, and that there is a lot to double-check. A lot. Now we're up to our neck in shit, and it's not clear what to do. "Denazification" and "demilitarization" are not clear goals, because they do not have clearly defined parameters by which one can determine the level of accomplishment or non-completion of the task.
Now it remains to be seen if some fucking adviser will convince the top to start a conflict with Europe demanding they reduce sanctions or we declare war. But what if they refuse? I do not rule out that then we will be drawn into a real international conflict, like Hitler in 1939. Then our Z will turn into a new swastika.
Is there a possibility of a local nuclear strike? Yes. Not for military purposes (it will not do anything - this is a defense breakthrough weapon), but with the aim of intimidating others. At the same time, the soil is being prepared to turn everything to Ukraine - [spymaster] Naryshkin and his SVR are now digging to prove that Ukraine secretly created nuclear weapons. They are now hammering on what we have long studied and dismantled: you can’t draw evidence here on your knee. The presence of specialists and uranium (Ukraine has a lot of depleted isotope 238) is nothing. The production cycle is such that you can’t do it without someone noticing. You can’t even make a “dirty” bomb without someone noticing. Ukraine's old nuclear power plants can produce weapons-grade plutonium (plants like REB-1000 produce it in minimal quantities as a “by-product” of the reaction) - but the Americans got the IAEA involved, so sucking on that topic is stupid.
Do you know what will happen in the next week or two? Sanctions will hit us so hard that we will start to miss the hungry 90s. While the stock market was closed, Nabiullina seemed to be taking normal steps - but this is all like plugging a hole in a dam with a finger. It will still break through, and even stronger. Nothing will be decided in 3, 5, or 10 days.
Kadyrov beats his hoof for a reason - they have their own adventures there. He created for himself the image of the most influential and invincible. And if that image falls once, he will be taken down by its own people. He will no longer be the owner of the winning horse.
We go further. Syria. "The guys will hold out, everything will be over in Ukraine - and there in Syria we will again strengthen everything in positions." And now, at any moment, they can wait there for the contingent to run out of resources. Turkey blocks the straits - and to transport supplies there by air is like heating a furnace with money.
Notice that all this is happening at the same time. We don’t even have time to bring everything into one heap. We're beginning this in a situation equivalent to Germany in 1943-1944.
Sometimes I am already lost from overwork. Sometimes it seems that everything is a dream and it's all as it was before.
In prisons, by the way, it will be worse. Now the nuts will begin to tighten until we see bloody ichor, everywhere. To be honest, purely technically, this remains the only chance to keep the situation - we are already in the mode of total mobilization. But you can’t stay in such a regime for a long time, and we have ambiguity with the timing and it will only get worse for now. From mobilization, management always goes astray. You can run a hundred meters in a sprint, but it’s bad to go to a marathon and begin sprinting with all your might. Here we sprinted with the Ukrainian question as if we were running a hundred meters, but we are truly running a cross-country marathon.
And that's what I said very, very briefly about what's going on.
For the cynical, I will only add that I do not believe that Putin will press the red button to destroy the whole world.
Firstly, there is more than one person making a decision, at least someone will balk. There are a lot of people there - there is no "one-man red button".
Secondly, there are some doubts that the nuclear arsenal is even functioning properly. Experience shows that the greater the transparency and control, the easier it is to identify shortcomings. But there is no transparency. I'm not sure if the red button system works as advertised. In addition, the plutonium charge must be changed every 10 years.
Thirdly, and this is the most vile and sad thing, I personally do not believe in the readiness to sacrifice oneself of a person who does not let the members of the Federation Council, but his closest representatives and ministers, come close to him. For fear of the coronavirus or an attack, it doesn't matter. If you are afraid to let the most trusted people near you, then how will you dare to destroy yourself and your loved ones, inclusive?
If anything - ask, but I can not answer for several days. We are in a rush mode, and there are more and more tasks.
In general, our reports are peppy, but everything flies into the clusterfuck"
Honestly? I think I buy this. It fits with what we know and we've got people like Bellingcat feeling confident in its authenticity.
Lots to digest here.
They really are up s**t creek, and definitely don’t have a paddle.
Thanks for the read - lots to follow