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We’ll start this edition with the war in Ukraine. We discussed in the last edition that Ukrainian forces were surrounding the city of Lyman, and that Putin had told Russian forces to hold at all costs. I shared the image below in the previous episode:
Shortly after publishing that episode, Putin ordered the retreat of Russian forces to prevent them from being captured. And since that announced retreat, you can see from the link below just how much progress Ukraine has made since Friday.
The Washington Post described the news in an article as follows:
Zelensky said the town of Lyman, which Russian troops used as a key logistics hub in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region since their arrival this spring, was completely “cleared of the Russian occupiers” as of midday local time, the Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
The president’s statement came a day after the Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged it had been forced to withdraw troops from Lyman “to more advantageous lines.”
Ukraine not only shocked analysts in the eastern part of the country in the Donbas region, with its seizure and breakthrough of Lyman, it also caused ripples of excitement when news broke that a breakthrough had occurred in the south; in the region of Kherson.
Here’s a look at what the breakthrough looked like, according to quite a few pro-Ukrainian analysts on social media. (Please note: these are from sources who are not unbiased, but the information aligns with numerous sources that I trust. And I trust this information enough to share it here.)
The goal is to achieve an encirclement, as was done last week at Lyman. (See below.)
So far, the Institute for the Study of War hasn’t updated its maps to reflect the latest advances. Their maps are currently reflecting shorter thrusts by Ukraine.
But mainstream media such as The New York Times are now reporting the breakthroughs.
Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged on Monday that Ukrainian tank units had penetrated its line of defense in part of the region (of Kherson), a fertile part of southern Ukraine that Russian forces seized in the first weeks of the war.
Russia’s troops are in a precarious position in the Kherson Region. The bulk of the Kremlin’s forces are deployed west of the broad Dnipro River, in and around the city of Kherson, while their supplies and logistical support are mostly on the river’s east bank.
Ukrainian forces have largely destroyed the crucial bridges needed to continue to supply troops with ammunition and equipment. Though the Russians are well dug in after many months in control of the territory, a concerted attack could tax their limited supply lines and possibly force — and complicate — a retreat across the river.
At this point, very little — if anything — is going Russia’s way. So, Putin has again worked hard to scream about the threat of using a nuclear weapon, in the hopes of backing down the West.
And while I really wanted to not discuss this over-the-top ultimatum, events have simply given me no choice.
So we begin with this article from The New York Times, which sums up the situation nicely.
For all his threats to fire tactical nuclear arms at Ukrainian targets, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is now discovering what the United States itself concluded years ago, American officials suspect: Small nuclear weapons are hard to use, harder to control and a far better weapon of terror and intimidation than a weapon of war.
The primary utility, many U.S. officials say, would be as part of a last-ditch effort by Mr. Putin to halt the Ukrainian counteroffensive, by threatening to make parts of Ukraine uninhabitable. … The targets could be a Ukrainian military base or a small city.
Still, the risks for Mr. Putin could easily outweigh any gains. His country could become an international pariah, and the West would try to capitalize on the detonation to try to bring China and India, and others who are still buying Russian oil and gas, into sanctions they have resisted.
Attempting to flesh out some of the same lines of thinking, Axios discussed some of the options Putin might take, as well as their consequences.
If Putin does use nuclear weapons, he could seek a "demonstration effect" — perhaps by detonating a nuclear weapon over the Black Sea or in the Arctic — or deploy a smaller-yield "tactical" nuclear weapon on the battlefield, says Andrea Kendall-Taylor of the Center for a New American Security.
The U.S. would not likely go nuclear in response, but it could conduct a conventional military strike on Russian soil — perhaps targeting the site or unit behind the Russian launch — and pursue non-military steps like permanently seizing Russian central bank reserves, Kendall-Taylor says.
Retired general Ben Hodges, who commanded U.S. forces in Europe, has said if Russia conducts a nuclear attack in Ukraine, the U.S. could destroy Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
Stating the obvious here perhaps, but both of these would be horrendous consequences for Russia.
And then I wanted to share one third and final thing regarding Putin possibly using nuclear weapons, because this is just so informative.
The Atlantic published a long, in-depth piece on the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons.
First, the article explains there will be a lot of warning time.
According to Pavel Podvig, the director of the Russian Nuclear Forces Project and a former research fellow at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, now based in Geneva, the long-range ballistic missiles deployed on land and on submarines are Russia’s only nuclear weapons available for immediate use. If Putin decides to attack Ukraine with shorter-range, “tactical” nuclear weapons, they will have to be removed from an Object S site—such as Belgorod-22, just 25 miles from the Ukrainian border—and transported to military bases. It will take hours for the weapons to be made combat-ready, for warheads to be mated with cruise missiles or ballistic missiles, for hydrogen bombs to be loaded on planes. The United States will most likely observe the movement of these weapons in real time: by means of satellite surveillance, cameras hidden beside the road, local agents with binoculars.
Presumably, at a minimum, once these actions are seen, some phone calls will be made to government officials. Possibly even military commanders. But if the U.S. can’t stop them from being used, the U.S. will humiliate Russia almost immediately. Such responses include, according to the article:
The number of Ukrainian casualties should determine the severity of the American response—and any escalation should be conducted solely with conventional weapons. Russia’s Black Sea fleet might be sunk in retaliation, and a no-fly zone could be imposed over Ukraine, even if it meant destroying anti-aircraft units on Russian soil.
And that is the response based solely on the weaker/softer side. All of this leads me to continue to believe that Putin is bluffing.
He’s the loudmouth bully on the playground, who’s finally been beaten up after running his mouth the entire school year, and while his classmates laugh and point, he’s now threatening to run home and get a knife to use. But it’s all a lie because the bully knows if he pulls a knife — or even brings it to school — he’ll end up in juvenile or jail; and that’s best case scenario.
So, while I might be wrong, I continue to believe that Putin is bluffing. And I continue to believe that the West should not appease him by backing down.
If we back down now, he will just threaten to use nuclear weapons again further down the road, but maybe next time it’s the demand that Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, surrender or else. Or maybe Putin threatens an invasion of some other country?
Appeasement has been shown throughout history that it never works. And at some point, you have to stand up to bullies. The West needs to remain defiant and steadfast in its convictions.
I do not believe Putin will risk the military humiliation that will occur if he uses nuclear weapons. Nor do I believe he can surrender the oil and gas deals he currently has with China, India, and what few remaining trading partners he still has.
The West must hold firm and not blink.
Let’s move briefly away from nuclear threats back to regular fighting on the ground.
I’m going to share one final thing that I’m dying to share, but that also might be too hopeful and too much conjecture.
And yet this guy has been right about so much regarding the war. And what he is predicting he is claiming would happen this week. So, if I’m going to share it, it has to be now.
So, I’m going to share it because it’s the most mind-blowing, earth-shattering thing I’ve seen since probably the beginning of the war. And it’s the ONLY thing I’ve seen that could end the war in weeks and months; instead of years and years.
With all of that out of the way, I present to you what could be the death blow to Russia’s third invasion of Ukraine.
It’s the final thrust labeled as number three in the image above. First, there was number 1, up in the east, in the Donbas region.
Then there was number 2, in the south, in the Kherson/Crimea region, which we discussed earlier in this edition.
And Dr. Mike Martin is predicting a number 3 thrust. A strategic reserve that hits the middle and cuts the Russian forces into two pieces. It would sever the land bridge and remove any connection between Russian forces, destroying their ability to reinforce and move troops from flank to flank.
Now, I have no idea if Ukraine has a strategic reserve that could pull this off. But like I said, you can’t un-see this. It’s absolutely brilliant.
You pull the Russians to their right, trying to stop the advances near Lyman. You’ve already pulled them left, to defend Kherson, which was talked about for months and was perhaps the biggest threat up to that point.
And after the Russians put their best troops in the South around Kherson, you rip apart their flank in the Lyman area, you keep them pinned in Kherson, and then you drive right through the middle.
Dr. Martin predicts this will happen this week.
It’s a stunningly aggressive prediction, and I almost hesitate to share it. But I also don’t want to NOT share it in case it does happen.
(And at this point, there’s literally nothing the Russians could do if it’s going to happen this week. They’re pinned down, and lack the time or logistics to move forces to prevent it from happening.)
Using a football analogy, the ball has been hiked, the play is already started, and there’s not time to move your linemen around. There’s a giant gap that the Ukrainians could drive through, and let’s hope that they do.
Let’s move from Ukraine back to the subject of crazy escalations…
North Korea alarmed world leaders and made national news on Monday, when it sent a ballistic missile over Japan, forcing the American ally to sound sirens before the missile landed in waters beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
In a story published by The New York Times, Japan Warns Residents to Take Shelter as North Korea Launches Missile, the international incident was described like this:
North Korea on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, the South Korean military said, prompting a rare warning by the Japanese government for residents in two northern prefectures to seek shelter.
The launch represented a major escalation by North Korea, which has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent days as the United States and its allies held military drills in the region.
The U.S. response from the White House was as follows:
The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan. This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK’s blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms. Tonight, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with his Japanese and Republic of Korea (ROK) counterparts, Secretary General Akiba Takeo of the National Security Secretariat of Japan and National Security Office Director Kim Sung-han of the ROK. In both calls, the National Security Advisors consulted on appropriate and robust joint and international responses and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reinforced the United States’ ironclad commitments to the defense of Japan and the ROK. The United States will continue its efforts to limit the DPRK’s ability to advance its prohibited ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs, including with allies and UN partners.
I’ll definitely keep an eye on this in the coming days and weeks.
Moving to Iran, we had discussed the protests that had broken out there last week. And so far, nothing much has changed. President Biden released a statement yesterday condemning the attempts by Iran to clamp down on the demonstrations.
To me, it seems the U.S. will likely be dropping additional sanctions on some Iranian officials and groups. I’ll keep an eye out on this and keep you apprised of any additional developments.
Moving from Iran to Africa, American forces bombed militants in Somalia on Monday. (Web link: https://bit.ly/3SvWDzP)
Back in December, we discussed that the U.S. Navy had charged a sailor in the case of the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard.
It turns out that case wasn’t much of a case. Like, not a case at all.
Here are some of the ugly details from that case from NPR, which it sounds like the Navy should have never charged or tried.
"I can say that the past two years have been the hardest two years of my entire life as a young man," he said. "I've lost time with friends. I've lost friends. I've lost time with family, and my entire Navy career was ruined. I am looking forward to starting over."
Prosecutors presented no physical evidence during the nine-day trial that the sailor set the ship on fire, while the defense chipped away at the credibility of a key witness, XXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX, who changed his account over time.
Gary Barthel, a former Marine judge advocate who represented Mays at a preliminary hearing, said undercutting Velasco's credibility was key. Barthel has said the judge in the preliminary hearing recommended against a court martial, but Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, former commander of the San Diego-based U.S. 3rd Fleet, had the final say.
It upsets me the Navy proceeded with such a case, and I apologize to the sailor for even announcing the charges. Obviously, I definitely wanted to correct the record, as well.
Finally, I am quite embarrassed and horrified at the Navy’s actions in this case.
They have certainly wrecked one man’s life unnecessarily.
Okay, that was a dark topic.
Let’s move to something more positive.
Motivation and wisdom:
I always like to end with this one:
And with that, thanks for joining us this week on The View from the Front.
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As a reminder, please be kind and try your best to love your fellow Americans.
So many men and women have sacrificed, fought, and died to keep this country together the past 240-plus years. Please work daily to unite our country again. The vast majority of Americans are decent, loving, great people.
Please don’t name-call the other side. They are mothers and fathers and folks not much different than you.🇺🇸🇺🇸
Also, please try to be a better person each and every day. Try to be kinder on social media and how you interact with others with whom you disagree.
Also, if you have a dream kicking around in the back of your mind? Go after it. If you have that friend or family member that you know you should reach out to? Reach out to them.
Finally, and this especially goes to all my awesome military folks listening out there, if you need help, reach out to someone. Please. Call that friend or family member. Do it for us all. We’ve already lost too many of the greatest folks that this country has produced to suicide. So I’m asking you to be brave once more, and show some vulnerability. Take a deep breath, breathe, and call a friend or family member or someone who can help.
I appreciate each and every one of you. Every tweet, every share, every email, etc. I can’t even tell you how much those mean to me, and I love each and every one of you all.
Please join me again in our next episode, and please stay safe until then.
Thanks again, everyone! You guys are the best. As always, don’t forget to check out my books. You can find all 11 of them on Amazon.
And with that, I’m out.
Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a motivational/biography book about President Obama, and two realistic war novels: one about World War II and one about Afghanistan.