Ukraine counteroffensive liberates Izyum, reveals Russian war crimes

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Putin needs to be held accountable for the horrors he's unleashed:

One woman, whom The Washington Post is not naming out of concerns for her safety, said three soldiers burst into her home in March and raped her for three hours. “They were drunk and had those strange [drugged] eyes,” she said. “Blood was pouring out of me afterward. I couldn’t leave my house for a week.”

She tried to protect her daughters, ages 15 and 22, from the same fate. But desperate for money, the sisters went out one day to look for work as cleaners, she said. Russian soldiers brought the younger one back home — alone. “I don’t know where she is,” the mother said Friday, crying for her older daughter. “I don’t know!”

Any sympathy I previously held for rank-and-file Russian soldiers is quickly fading. This is Putin's fault, but murder and rape can't be written off to "policy." They are individual acts, carried out by individuals, while other individuals stand by and watch:

Investigators on Friday started to exhume the bodies of more than 400 civilians buried in a makeshift cemetery and as many as 17 Ukrainian soldiers buried in a mass grave at the same site. The area, located in a forest just outside Izyum, had been used as a Russian military position.

Officials said they had quickly identified signs of torture on some of the corpses. At least one had a rope around his neck, they said.

About 100 investigators stoically dug up the graves — each marked with a simple wooden cross and number — and took notes on the condition of the decomposing bodies, measuring them and searching for identifying details. The stench of death filled the air, and booms echoed through the woods as Ukrainian forces demined a nearby area.

Several investigators in white jumpsuits and gloves stood in the large pit where the soldiers’ mass grave was discovered. They put each body in a white plastic bag, then carried the bags to flat ground nearby. One worker then unzipped each bag to closely examine its contents. The soldiers’ identities were unknown — their faces so damaged or decayed from the time underground that they were no longer recognizable.

We just passed the 200th day of this conflict, and some estimates have Russian military losses (deaths) at about a battalion a day. That's roughly 200 combat soldiers, which are usually supported by 300-400 others. But from what I've seen, such levels of support simply don't exist anymore. Which goes a long way in explaining Ukraine's success in this counteroffensive.

That being said, don't assume that Putin or his Generals realize (or even care) about the implications of that. This could go on for another six months easily:

“We’re coming to a point right now where I think Putin is going to have to revise what his objectives are for this operation,” Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a conference on Friday. “It’s pretty clear right now that he’s … not going to be able to do what he initially intended to do.”

Russian forces have suffered major setbacks since the launch last week of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, which has forced Moscow’s troops back from large swaths of Ukraine’s northeast.

“The Russians planned for an occupation, not necessarily an invasion, and that has set them back,” Berrier said, citing Putin’s reluctance so far to fully mobilise Russian forces to get more manpower into the fight. Berrier spoke at a panel with other senior officials at the intelligence community’s Intelligence and National Security Summit at National Harbor in Maryland just outside Washington. CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said that Putin’s “risk appetite” should not be underestimated. “I don’t think we should underestimate Putin’s adherence to his original agenda, which was to control Ukraine. I don’t think we’ve seen any reason to believe he has moved off that.”

US military officials said on Friday that two new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars (NASAMS) will be delivered to Ukraine. Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that “two NASAMS are expected to be delivered within the next two months or so”.

The White House said it was the 21st time that the defence department has pulled weapons and other equipment off the shelves to deliver to Ukraine.

And of course those will have to be replaced, lest the Military-Industrial Complex miss out on some hefty profits.

Have a nice weekend.

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I know we've got other fish to fry...

Literally hundreds of critical state and national elections happening about six weeks from now. So I won't be "war updating" frequently, just thought you should know some of these things.