AS ALLIED ARMIES were closing in on Nazi Germany from the East and the West, Joseph Goebbels launched the Volkssturm. Inspired by the great popular uprising of ordinary Germans against Napoleon, the Volkssturm (Peoples Storm) was composed of the very last reserves of German manpower. Old men and teenage boys were handed an armband and an anti-tank weapon and ordered to resist – to the death – the vast Allied armies advancing relentlessly, and unstoppably, towards the German heartland.
The creation of the Volkssturm was not just a hopeless gesture, it was a profoundly wicked one. By early 1945, Germany had already lost the war. Continued resistance was utterly futile. To send out old men in their sixties, and boys as young as twelve, to fight highly-trained and well-equipped soldiers was nothing short of murder. Only the leaders of a government bereft of ethics, who had lost all contact with the real world, could contemplate such a disastrous call-up.
What then should we make of the photograph posted on the website Tea Leaves and Russia showing what is purported to be a Russian soldier. The man has a white beard and looks to be in his sixties. He is standing before a Russian lorry and is carrying a Kalashnikov automatic rifle. But, the most remarkable detail of this photograph, circled in red by whoever sent it, is what this soldier is wearing on his feet. No combat boots for this man. He is expected to go into battle wearing plastic sandals!
Now, it is important to own up to the possibility that the photograph might be a fake. That what we are actually looking at is a Ukrainian grand-dad doing his bit for his country’s war effort by pretending to be this poorly-equipped Russian conscript-of-last-resort. Vladimir Putin’s Volkssturm.
But if the photograph is genuine: if this is the quality of the reserves Putin is throwing into the fight; then the general collapse of the Russian Federation (RF) forces in the face of the general offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) is explained. Against a military force trained and equipped with the latest high-tech weapons by the Americans and their Nato allies, whose commanders, unlike their Russian counterparts, are encouraged to take the initiative and make their own battlefield decisions, and whose already sky-high morale is now off-the-scale, the RF has very little to offer by way of effective resistance.
Images recorded on the advancing AFU troops’ smartphones show tanks and armoured vehicles abandoned on the roadsides. Perhaps they are empty of fuel. Perhaps they have no more ammunition left to fire at the enemy. Whatever the explanation, their crews have fled towards the east, desperate to reach the safety of the Russian border. Moscow is attempting to portray this as a “regrouping” – it is no such thing. What the world is looking at here (at least that part of the world which is not obsessively following the “coffin” – i.e. the body – of the late Queen on its journey south to London) is not a “re-grouping” – it’s a rout.
Just how serious the situation has become for the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin is captured in these words to the Russian President, supposedly spoken by a representative of the leadership of the Russian General Staff:
“Our troops have no more offensive capabilities, and soon there will be no more opportunities for defence. You lost Vladimir Vladimirovich!”
Taken together with the already confirmed reports of representative bodies in St Petersburg and Moscow passing resolutions demanding Putin be charged with treason, and reports of military movements in the capital suggestive of preparations for a military coup d’état, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Putin’s political (and personal?) survival must now be considered doubtful.
Putin and his coterie of supportive oligarchs, bureaucrats, and politicians will be desperate, now, to fix the blame for the military catastrophe unfolding across Eastern Ukraine on his battlefield commanders. His mouthpieces are already calling for the execution of these “treacherous generals”. The military commanders of the Russian Federation must, therefore, move with the utmost haste to protect themselves from the wrath of “Vladimir Vladimirovich”. By decapitating the political leadership, before it decapitates them.
Not only is the personal survival of these principal players at stake at this critical moment, but so, too, is the general shape and structure of the Russian Federation.
In 1905, the Russian Czar, Nicholas II, suffered a catastrophic naval defeat at the hands of the Japanese Empire – an “upstart” power whose military capabilities the Russians had fatally underestimated. The result was a nationwide uprising which came within an ace of overturning the Russian autocracy.
Putin’s oligarch allies will not want defeat at the hands of the “upstart” Ukrainians to spark a third Russian revolution. Better to depose Putin quickly and cleanly, make peace with Ukraine, and restore a measure of normality to the Federation, Europe, and the world in general. As Bob Dylan has the gangster Joey Gallo say in his eponymous ballad: “It’s peace and quiet that we need to go back to work again.”
At any other time, developments on this scale, and of this importance, would be dominating our headlines and, like the Ukrainians themselves, the rest of the world would be following the advance of their forces with bated breath. Only time will tell whether the Western World’s utter distraction by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the accession of King Charles III, was a help or a hindrance to the Ukrainian offensive.
It is, however, possible that the Queen’s death, by distracting the West, prevented its more hawkish leaders from making the sort of accusations and threats that only ever end up strengthening Putin’s hand. That Ukraine’s armies racked up their victories while the eyes of the West were elsewhere, may yet prove to have been the most extraordinary stroke of good luck.
By dying when she did, the Queen may well have saved the life of that sandal-wearing Russian greybeard, as well as tens-of-thousands of equally ill-equipped and poorly-trained Russian troops, and given the Armed Forces of Ukraine the clear airwaves they needed to drive Putin’s armies back across the border.
Goebbel’s Volkssturm could nor rescue the Third Reich, but Volodymyr Zelensky’s “Peoples Storm” (with a little help from the Americans) has made it possible for Ukraine to lay waste the fondest hopes of Vladimir Putin – and his allies in Beijing.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 13 September 2022.
Jumping to conclusions is a fools errand. Especially during an armed conflict.
As we all know this is an IT/Propaganda war first. A physical war second.
I find this guy gives a reasoned and non emotive review of whats happening.
He is Austrian Military and therefore not a NATO guy, Austrian is not a member of NATO and has remained neutral over the current conflict, not supplying arms.
That would have to be the strangest picture I have seen from the disinfo dept. I have seen nothing like it on SouthFront, or any of the many YouTube sites covering the war (presumably all with a national backer from one side or the other). I would look at Larry Johnson's blog sonar21.com for reasonably informed comment, he's ex-US military, the New Atlas site is also ex-US military.
I gave up reading the papers years ago, and now only look at their websites if directed by a reputable source, such as this blog!!
I did comment to the good Dr Sharma a few months ago that I hoped he could tolerate our Nazi loving PM. Appears he can't :)
A couple of months ago I read reports that the Russians were calling on older military veterans and volunteers for the Ukrainian war so suspect this old chap is one those. Apparently that was directly from official Russian communications but, as has been pointed out, there is a propaganda war going on as well.
The happiest people in the world right now are the intelligence communities of the UK and USA. For the Brits whose lands were once a private execution chamber for Putin and a luxury pad for his cronies, it is sweet honey to see NLAWs brewing T72s as easily as a cup of English breakfast.
For the US revenge can hardly be more delicious. They had to stand by and watch the 2020 election and then Russian spooks smiling in the Oval Office. No more. What better than to have an ally as committed and ferocious as the NVA and Taliban combined killing Russians for you. Killing them in great number due to your HIMARs, M77 guns and most of all, your eyes in the sky pinpointing the next target for them. And not a US combat death in sight. All that intelligence on Russian capability now coming flooding in.
Ah the sweet sweet smell of vengeance and victory.
Just an add on to anybody interested in how the info war is played, here is a study by mathematicians from Adelaide looking at bot activity in the first month of the SMO.
#IStandWithPutin versus #IStandWithUkraine: The interaction of bots and humans in discussion of the Russia/Ukraine war
All a bit technical (at least to me) but the main thing I got was that a huge majority of the activity was from Ukrainian bots. (reading the abstract and intro which had a good set of charts.)
Just a note to David above, the Russians haven't mobilised their reserve forces at all and last week they had 50 thousand or so taking par tin the Vostok exercise in Easern Russina, along with Chinese and Indian forces.
Thanks James, the Russians have not declared this a war so they are limited in the troops and equipment they can use. Hence the old volunteers? Seems strange but that is what it is.
"Since its outset, the invasion has been called a Special Military Operation rather than a war – leaving the Kharkiv region occupied by paramilitary forces that did not have appropriate weapons. Russia is defending regions with insufficient troops on the ground, unable to fully mobilise its resources, left to fight “with one hand tied behind its back.” But Putin does not want to generate internal civil unrest by admitting he may have to escalate further into full war-mobilisation."
An interesting discussion from (the always interesting) UnHerd: https://unherd.com/thepost/clint-ehrlich-what-i-got-wrong-about-ukraine/
Russia has been hosting the Vostok exercises with 50,000 regular soldiers so it has no difficulty in sourcing either men and equipment should it wish to escalate the troop numbers in Ukraine. What has been a surprise is how few regular Russian forces are actively involved in the infantry fighting, which is being led by local militia and Wagner contractors.
Russia has a seemingly endless supply of munitions and equipment while it’s Ukraine calling for crowd sourcing to supply basic equipment and boots.
The quote that Russia has “no more offensive capabilities, and soon there will be no more opportunities for defence” comes from the Telegram channel “SRV General”, which like QAnon, claims to be the inside story coming from an anonymous high-ranking insider within Russia. A quick google search on statements that have come from the channel shows months of unfounded claims yet its regularly quoted in western media as a source. The author of the Tea Leaves and Russia essay you quoted Chris has months of writing claiming Russia is on the verge of collapse. There are much more reliable sources to be contemplating & I would suggest:
The New Atlas by ex-US Marine Brian Berletic has been consistently reliable and insightful.
Alexander Mercouris for Russian geopolitics is a level of in-depth discussion that can’t be found elsewhere. Shorter daily summaries can be found at the Duran
Scott Ritter the former Iraq Weapons inspector and Russian military specialist. Incredibly, he was able to secure an hour-long interview with the Commander of the Donetsk People's Republic's militia a few weeks ago.
As far as I know, the only English speaking source that provides detailed daily battle information that incorporates both Russian and Ukrainian sources is the Military Summary Channel
Putin is more popular and secure with domestic politics and international relations than ever. Western sanctions seized the assets of the oligarch class that have continually been a problem for his government. Those same sanctions have resulted in enhanced strategic partnerships with Turkey, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and India that have ballooned bilateral trade between them while decreasing inflation and improving standards of living and real wages in Russia.
The real crisis is with the West with Europe condemned to a permanent energy crisis while the new Eastern alliances are walking away from the US dollar, banking system and geopolitical institutions. What’s unfolding is probably the biggest geopolitical shift in hundreds of years, and we hear nothing being reported. Reports on the demise of Russia are increasingly looking like fantasy.
The world loses no matter who wins. If Russia wins yet another nation can start an unjustified war. The US wins its proxy war and WW3 with China over Taiwan (the chinese Ukraine) starts sooner.
In repsonse to Loz's well informed summary I would add Defence Policy Asia (YT) to the mix. This particular site, out off Singapore merely does a situational map without projection. He's pretty good at saying where he gets info from and why he makes changes. Does sometimes use 'clickbait' headings though..
I too am a little surprised that Chris seems to rely on MSM for his info, truth being the first casualty of war that is an easy mistake to avoid..
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