A Blog by Jonathan Low


Feb 7, 2023

Video Shows Russian Troops Beating Their Wounded Officer With Shovels

Doesn't look like there's high job satisfaction or much manager-employee trust in Russia's Wagner Group. JL 

Luke Harding reports in The Guardian:

Extraordinary video footage shows Russian fighters dragging their badly wounded commander away from the battlefield, then beating him violently with shovels. A Ukrainian drone captured the incident near Bakhmut. Four soldiers from Wagner carry their colleague through a ruined landscape, holding his arms and legs. They dump him next to a barn, three men then hitting him repeatedly with shovels. Wagner troops attack in waves. They are reportedly threatened with execution if they fail to advance and are mown down in large numbers. The episode tallies with persistent reports of low morale among Russian mercenary units.

Russia Loses 25 Tanks, 1,900 Soldiers In Last Two Days

The increased pace of Russian attacks in Donbas has also led to increased casualties and equipment losses as troops and armor without adequate support are decimated by Ukrainian troops in prepared defensive positions. JL

Ellie Cook reports in Newsweek:

Russian forces have lost 25 tanks in the past two days. The operational update then said 1,900 Russian soldiers had been killed in the past two days. "This is not a full-scale offensive, but preparation for it." Russian military commanders may be "in a rush to launch the decisive offensive," the Institute for the Study of War think tank said, to get ahead of Western military aid, including M1 Abrams, Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 main battle tanks arriving in Ukraine.

Ukraine's Baiting Tactics W/out NATO Weapons In Donbas Are Devastating Russians

Ukraine appears to be baiting Russian commanders into attacking prepared Ukrainian defenses. The objective, according to foreign experts, is to inflict maximum casualties even before any of the promised new NATO weapons appear on the battlefield. 

The goal is to use what weapons the Ukrainians have on hand, to make limited tactical withdrawals, causing the Russians to advance further - and then fall into traditional artillery ambushes. The belief is that this will weaken Russian troop formations before the Ukrainians begin counterattacking - again - with advanced NATO tanks, artillery, APCs - and trained troops. JL

Stefan Korshak reports in the Kyiv Post:

Ukrainian troops employ drones, artillery ambushes and delaying tactics, prioritizing enemy kills over holding ground to stem the Kremlin’s massed infantry assaults in the Donbas. Ukrainian infantry are holding buildings to the last possible moment to inflict maximum casualties. Russian pressure on Bakhmut may force limited Ukrainian retreats but are unlikely to result in a major breakthrough. Sources  claim the “kill-’em-as-they-come” tactic is working well. “They [attacking Russian soldiers] have no armor, no communication, no artillery support, and they die. Without significant results. We aren’t seeing evidence of Western weapons in sectors of the front where battles are taking place.”

Questions Arise About the Point Of Using AI To Extend Old Actors' Careers

Robert DeNiro, Robin Wright, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Harrison Ford. All have recently appeared in movies looking like their younger selves rather than the still attractive but aging reality. 

The point seems to be that as fewer movies get made with higher budgets, studios are less willing to assume financial risk, so they have hit upon recycling old stars as a means of reducing that risk. But Hollywood has never had a problem finding the next "It" boy or girl (hello, Margot Robbie and Timothee Chalamet) and there is concern that as Boomers and even Gen Xers get older, younger audiences will be turned off by the lack of new blood. JL

David Smith reports in The Guardian:

Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and other cast members will play younger versions of themselves in thanks to AI (which) can create “high-resolution photorealistic faceswaps and de-ageing effects on actors’ performances live and in real time without the need for further compositing or VFX work”. (But) why bother? “It’s time for the old farts to make space. There’s no reason for somebody to be in his 80s and still look like in his 30s. What does it do to our society if you have always the same idols being recreated on the screen? We got stuck in the past and we don’t want to look into the future. There’s no point."

Why Russia's Human Waves Will Not Succeed Against Ukraine's Combined Arms

Ukrainian troops are understandably weary from mowing down thousands of lightly armed Russians on the attack who are more afraid of what's behind them than of what's in front of them. 

But the military reality is that human wave tactics disappeared because they didnt work. As Ukraine deploys more high powered NATO weaponry and coordinates its impact with its NATO-trained soldiers, the only advance will be in the body count. JL 

Kos reports in Daily Kos:

The U.S. is working to improve Ukraine’s coordination between armor, infantry, engineering, artillery, intelligence, electronic warfare, and air assets. That skill will be critical to Ukraine’s success. Russia ran out of armor. But they had plenty of cannon fodder that led to human wave tactics. Russia will claim the tactic is a huge success, given that Bakhmut is teetering on the edge of capture. Yet the human cost is massive (not that Russia cares), and even with hundreds of thousands of Russian mobiks flooding into Ukraine, the tactic is unsustainable. Russia is in a predicament. Doubling down on their human-wave strategy isn’t going to get them out of it.

How Ukraine Volunteers With Soviet Weapons Down Most Russian Drones

Ukraine is starting to receive advanced NATO air defense systems to take down Russian missiles and rockets. 

But for shooting down Iranian-made suicide drones, unpaid volunteers who are often retired or work other jobs, are manning Soviet-era machine guns and eliminating much of that threat from above. JL 

Matthew Luxmoore reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Civilian and military units now intercept 80% of Russian missiles and drones. Air-defense teams have become heroes. Volunteer unit s include barbers, small-business owners and security guards, who keep their day jobs alongside their military duties. Once an air-raid siren sounds, they climb to the roofs of high-rise buildings or drive into fields to monitor the skies and try to shoot down drones. Even as advanced Western air defenses arrive in Ukraine, older weapons may remain the best solution to Russia’s drones. The cost in ammunition to shoot it down is dwarfed by the cost of the drone. And “when it’s shot by a fighter who doesn’t get paid for his work, then it’s an even better bargain.”

Feb 6, 2023

Russia Built Air Defenses For the Arctic, Then Sent Them To Ukraine Where They Got Destroyed

That snow camouflage hasn't helped much in southern Ukraine, where there has been no snow this year. JL 

David Axe reports in Forbes:

Russia built a dozen air-defense vehicles specifically for shooting down enemy warplanes in the brutal cold of the snowy Arctic. As climate change warmed the Arctic, opening new trade routes and mineral resources, the Kremlin began organizing forces specifically for combat in the extreme north. But the Tor-M2DT had its combat debut in Ukraine (where) Ukrainian forces have destroyed  them. The Russians deployed their Tor-M2DTs along with the 80th Arctic Motor Rifle Brigade to Kherson Oblast in southern Ukraine, which lately has been free of snow.