Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 20, 2022

Ukraine SitRep - Russians Break Through U.S. Bolsterism

On May 14 I noted that the U.S. had asked Russia for a ceasefire in Ukraine:

The U.S. readout of the call says:

On May 13, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu for the first time since February 18. Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication.

Austin initiated the call and the U.S. is seeking a ceasefire in Ukraine!!!

Yesterday the top officers of the U.S. and Russia had a call which, again, the U.S. side had initiated:

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, held a conversation that the Pentagon declined to further detail beyond acknowledging it had happened.

Thinks must be bad in Ukraine for this to have happened. Indeed if one trusts the daily 'clobber list' the Russian Ministry of Defense puts out all positions of the Ukrainian army are under heavy artillery fire and it is losing about 500 men per day. There are additional Russian effective strikes on training camps, weapon storage sites and transport hubs all over the country.

On top of that the tactical situation at the eastern frontline has changed after Russian forces broke through the heavily fortified frontline.

Source: - bigger
A few days ago the Russian army went forward along the H-32 road, broke through the line in the direction of Propasna and took the town. It has since extended the bulge by taking several villages to the north, west and south.


This breakthrough gives the chance to roll up the Ukrainian fortifications along the frontline through flank attacks or from behind. By cutting the supply lines of the Ukrainian troops to the north and south envelopes can be created which will eventual lead to cauldrons with no way out for the Ukrainian troops.

This is especially dangerous for the several thousand soldiers north of the bulge which currently defend the cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk in the north eastern part of the upper bubble.


The Russian plan was to have another breakthrough from the north pushing to Siversk to then close the upper envelope. But after several failed attempts to cross the forest area and the Seversky Donets river that breakthrough has still to happen.

Russia is now likely to push fresh troops into the Propasna bulge to extend its reach into all directions. Reports of current actions show that the heavy fighting and bombing on the frontline continues and that bombing also continues to target traffic nodes.


Other fronts in Ukraine are currently relatively quiet with little direct fire. Still daily Russian artillery attacks hits all Ukrainian front lines and will cost daily casualties.

Some 2,000 Azov militia and Ukrainian army troops have left the catacombs of Azovstal in Mariupol. Another thousand may still be down there. The Russian army is filtering these prisoners. Members of Azov and other militia will be put to court. Ukrainian army soldiers will become prisoners of war.

The gasoline and diesel scarcity in Ukraine is currently having severe impacts. Even the Ukrainian military is now rationing its fuel. Since about six weeks ago Russia has systematically attacked refineries and fuel storage sites in Ukraine. It also disabled railroad bridges along the lines that brought fuel from Moldova and Romania.

At the same time the Ukrainian government had held up price regulations for fuel. The consumer sale prices for diesel and gasoline were fixed. The cost of fuel brought in by private trucks from Poland exceeded the price gas station owners could ask for. In consequence gas stations ran dry as their owners refrained from purchasing new fuel.

Three days ago the Zelensky regime in Kiev finally ended the fuel price control:

According to [economy minister] Svyrydenko, the government expects that the maximum prices for diesel will not exceed UAH 58 ($1.97), for gasoline — UAH 52 ($1.76) per liter, once controls are lifted.

“As soon as we feel that market operators are abusing their position, we will impose sanctions on them,” she added.

“We will monitor the situation on a daily basis”.

The expected prices are lower than what is currently asked for in Germany and that is without trucking the fuel the 600 kilometer from Poland to Kiev. The threat of sanctions also means that local wholesalers will have little incentives to actually deal in fuel. With the average wages in Ukraine being about $480 per months the real fuel prices will soon become another economic shock.

The Ukrainian government also continues its attacks on unions and labor laws:

In March, the Ukrainian parliament passed wartime legislation that severely curtailed the ability of trade unions to represent their members, introduced ‘suspension of employment’ (meaning employees are not fired, but their work and wages are suspended) and gave employers the right to unilaterally suspend collective agreements.
But beyond this temporary measure, a group of Ukrainian MPs and officials are now aiming to further ‘liberalise’ and ‘de-Sovietise’ the country’s labour laws. Under a draft law, people who work in small and medium-sized firms – those which have up to 250 employees – would, in effect, be removed from the country’s existing labour laws and covered by individual contracts negotiated with their employer. More than 70% of the Ukrainian workforce would be affected by this change.

Against a background of concerns that Ukrainian officials are using Russia’s invasion to push through a long-awaited radical deregulation of labour laws, one expert has warned that the introduction of civil law into labour relations risks opening a “Pandora’s box” for workers.

In total the social-economic situation for Ukraine is catastrophic. The military situation is even worse. Mariupol has fallen and Russian troops working there will soon be able to go elsewhere. The Propasna bulge is threatening to envelope the whole northern frontline together with the core of the Ukrainian army.

There is no more talk of the Ukrainian army 'winning' like in Kiev or Karkov where the Russian troops retreated in good order after finishing their task of holding Ukrainian forces in place.

The Ukrainian command has sent several territorial brigades to the front lines. These units were supposed to defend their home towns. They consist of middle age men drafted into service. They have little fighting experience and lack heavy weapons. Several of these units have published videos saying they were giving up. They are lamenting that their commanders left them when their situation became critical.

That the Ukrainian army is now using such units as cannon fodder shows that it has only few reserves left.

Weapons that come in from the 'west' have difficulties reaching the front lines and had so far very little effect. They amount to drops of water on a hot plate.

All the above are the reasons why Austin and Milley have phoned up their Russian equivalents. They are also the reasons why the New York Times editors call on the Biden administration to end its bluster and to take a more realistic position:

Recent bellicose statements from Washington — President Biden’s assertion that Mr. Putin “cannot remain in power,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comment that Russia must be “weakened” and the pledge by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that the United States would support Ukraine “until victory is won” — may be rousing proclamations of support, but they do not bring negotiations any closer.
In the end, it is the Ukrainians who must make the hard decisions: They are the ones fighting, dying and losing their homes to Russian aggression, and it is they who must decide what an end to the war might look like. If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.
[A]s the war continues, Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain.
Confronting this reality may be painful, but it is not appeasement. This is what governments are duty bound to do, not chase after an illusory “win.” Russia will be feeling the pain of isolation and debilitating economic sanctions for years to come, and Mr. Putin will go down in history as a butcher. The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission. America’s support for Ukraine is a test of its place in the world in the 21st century, and Mr. Biden has an opportunity and an obligation to help define what that will be.

Posted by b on May 20, 2022 at 16:49 UTC | Permalink

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Scorpion @296: "So along with deploring the heinous behavior which such movements clearly evidence, what do we attack?"

That is easy: Capitalist mass media is the chief driver for the frenzy of hate.

You think it is some mysterious KGB agents, or imaginary working class "white supremacists" driving the hate in the US right now, for example? No, it is Disney and Netflix and NBC and the Washington Bezos post. It is Google and Twitter and Facebook, but they are not fanning the flames of hate in any manner that the faux left in the US like to imagine. The efforts to choke off the hate by silencing discourse only adds fuel to the fire.

And they are doing it for a "good cause". The empty talking heads and rhetorically squirming stenographers; the actors and showrunners; they are all just trying to serve their bosses' interests as best they can. They are trying to save the empire.

Posted by: William Gruff | May 21 2022 17:44 utc | 301

Now that 'monkey-pox' is on the rise, it's time to wind down the hot war. Russia 'wins' but Putin/Hitler/Satan/Evil/Russia is the eternal enemy of the 'west.' Meanwhile, a new crisis will take Ukraine's place.

Posted by: gottlieb | May 20 2022 17:11 utc

That reminds me, we haven't heard about THE CHINESE GENOCIDE OF THE UGYHURS for three months now. Remember them? I'd almost forgotten about that particular brain-stem finger-f*ck.

Well, our betters are keeping them on the back burner for the next cycle of peek-a-boo.

Posted by: dermotmoconnor | May 21 2022 20:39 utc | 302

But even 40-50 are irrelevant. One US Trident sub can obliterate NK with just what it has on board.
Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 21 2022 10:46 utc | 262

Stated with such brash certainty RSH. Too black and white.
Do you assume the North Koreans are stupid and ignorant? If their nukes don't matter then what is the problem? And there sure as hell is a problem from the US perspective, I'd say hysteria as a rule.
NK obviously works with China and there will be a plan for those subs you can count on it.
Naturally I'm speculating based on observing how many steps ahead these countries always are in every other arena that matters to them.

Posted by: K | May 21 2022 21:16 utc | 303

juliania @289--

Thanks for your reply, reposting those very important words from my comment, and the Arendt citation. The point about evil is paramount. The evil of WW2 ended with the escalation of evil by a state that was thought to be good, which is one of the main reasons why it got away with so much evil. Fortunately, it didn't take very long for the evil to reemerge, although it was well hidden from those who most needed to learn about it and take action--a situation that still remains. The bioweapon evidence provides an excellent opportunity to again reveal the longstanding years of evil for those ignorant of it and most needing to know that history.

Scorpion @296--

Thanks for your inclusion of my thought into your comment. Several years ago--2018--when Hudson published …and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption — From Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year it became clear a new organizational hypothesis needed to be formulated based on that and other recently documented information--The fundamental Human Conflict during the last 4-5,000 years is a Class War between debtors and creditors, with today's Neoliberals and their ism in the role of creditors. In my talks with psychohistorian, he agrees that's another way to describe his civilizational war. Your futurist question--What happens next--I answered thusly: Once neoliberalism is defeated, the multipolar world becomes the norm and most nations are able to reach a decent level of development, humanity will face the next big crisis: finite resources depletion, which will usher in an age requiring steady-state political-economics and consequent redirection of development's focus from the material to intellect and wisdom. The timing for this next paradigm shift will be about 100 years from now, perhaps more depending on the evolution of energy production.

So, there you have some additional context that most of the bar's oldtimers are able to recall when I remind everyone to look at the Big Picture.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 21 2022 21:53 utc | 304

And they are doing it for a "good cause". The empty talking heads and rhetorically squirming stenographers; the actors and showrunners; they are all just trying to serve their bosses' interests as best they can. They are trying to save the empire.

Posted by: William Gruff | May 21 2022 17:44 utc | 302

Trying to save an Empire whose elites are bent on destroying it so they can 'build it back better' for them. Lies, within lies, within lies......

Will no-one rid us of these troublesome elites!!!!

Posted by: Scorpion | May 21 2022 23:44 utc | 306

So, there you have some additional context that most of the bar's oldtimers are able to recall when I remind everyone to look at the Big Picture.
Posted by: karlof1 | May 21 2022 21:53 utc | 305

Thanks for your thoughtful (as ever) response.

Well, let's hope for the best, eh, viz the multipolar possibility. Unless and until I see how the checks and balances work in that arrangement (aka how to handle inevitable corruption), the degree to which nations cede sovereignty to a central something or not, the manner in which digital currencies, ID and social credit is administered, I have to remain no more than guardedly open.

Autocratic structures are by far the best when everyone is enjoying positive forward momentum, often at the beginning of a growth cycle following a decline/destructive one. But later on there have to be ways to ensure the spiritual as well as functional character of any given society remains vibrant to its core otherwise rot sets in.

I don't yet see any overt promises or attempts to dismantle the current credit cartels and oligarchic excesses which right now seem to dominate the world financial and mercantile mandalas.

That said, partly thanks to your posts here, am willing to entertain a positive outlook when examining statements out of Russia, willing to accept the possibility that Putin and the country he represents have honorable intentions and good plans to realize them. Willing. And so doing. But also open to being deceived or disappointed.

Time will tell...

Posted by: Scorpion | May 21 2022 23:53 utc | 307

@ Scorpion | May 21 2022 23:53 utc | 308 with follow up to Karl about society future.

I encourage you to think about the social incentives wrapped up in the God of Mammon Western society and the incentives in China where finance is a social utility rather than a jackboot of social control.

I continue to harp here on how important finance is to the definition of society. While I share your concerns about the ongoing stability/evolutionary capability of any form of government, to me, having one focused on providing support to the broadest range of the public is preferable to me than one that is extremely unequal to the point of anti-humanistic.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 22 2022 3:04 utc | 308

Some short videos of the Azov nazis coming out, being searched/screened etc;

not hard to pick out the nazis with their tats almost full bodied:

Posted by: Thomas | May 22 2022 5:06 utc | 309

Argentina becoming BRICS member, Lula again brasilian president soon. Says RT.

Posted by: njet | May 22 2022 5:41 utc | 310

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 22 2022 3:04 utc | 309

Thank you. If a society can balance authority with common sense, sanity, compassion and wisdom then no worries. The only reason this has proven so hard throughout human history is our individual and collective capacity for messing up, often in truly hellish ways. The human realm can always go both ways.

Perhaps Shakespeare (Lord Oxford) translated that line in Genesis wrong: not knowledge of good and evil but choice between good and evil...

Posted by: Scorpion | May 22 2022 6:07 utc | 311

312 - Ah, the Earl of Oxford. His death in 1604 is one of the biggest obstacles to the claim being accepted, as it is generally reckoned that at least 12 of the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written after that date.

Posted by: Waldorf | May 22 2022 6:29 utc | 312

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