Who is the Mystery Colonel captured in Balakliya?
Media speculation is running wild now that Ukraine has captured Colonel-General Andrei Sychevoi near Balakliya during the Ukrainian advance. The evidence is a video and stills of a Russian prisoner wearing LT Colonel insignia that bears a strong resemblance to Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov, the commander of Russia’s Western Military District.
We aren’t so sure, yet they have the right guy here.
Our military sources in Ukraine say they are not sure who he is and are looking into it.
He was captured wearing the summer uniform of the Russian Rosgvardia forces, which is Putin’s own federal police, within the police a check against both the army and the FSB trying to replace him by force. Col-Gen. Sychevoi is in the Russian army. We wonder why he’d try to disguise himself as an LTC when that would ensure he would be closely interrogated rather than try to pass as a Sergeant or just another pitiless Donbas conscript.
While Sychevoi was the commander of the Western Military district, he was said to have been replaced by Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov in June of 2022. So, what was he even doing there?
Finally, a Colonel-General in the Russian army is equivalent to a Lt General with three stars in the US army; they have an entire HQ and a staff of a hundred or so people. We have seen reports of lots of towns and villages overrun and loads of captured equipment. There have been no reports of the HQ of an entire military district being captured. If that actually happened, it would be pretty big in terms of intel about Russian troop positions, strength, and where all their supply depots are located.
Obviously, there is a visible similarity between the mystery LTC and Sychevoi but look at the photo below of him. He appears all but bald on top of his head, while the unknown LTC appears to have a shaved head but the outline of what appears to be a fuller head of hair.
It’s certainly possible the Ukrainians have pulled off a major coup capturing a 3-star general in the field, which hasn’t happened since WWII, but we think some signs are pointing away from it being Sychevoi at the moment. We reserve the right to change our minds on better information than a single picture as evidence becomes available.
Ukraine Captured This LTC For Sure
That being said, Ukraine certainly captured this LTC, who was apparently shot in the butt and is seen here being treated by Ukrainian medics. We would also remark that Ukraine’s troops, on the whole, look like they are very well equipped. In the background, there appears to be another medic treating another wounded Russian.
We know they got him because he had his military passport on his person. This is in contrast to the mystery colonel who was caught without papers. We aren’t very good at translating this stuff, but it looks like he was the commander of a supply unit (#90151) in the 18th Motor Rifle Division that was overrun by the Ukrainians. His name is Artem Helemendyk
Crew Rest and Fighting at Night May be the Key to Ukraine’s Success So Far
The Ukrainians have been living in their tanks for at least a week, and it will wear them down. Tanks are wonderful battlefield beasts, but they make lousy homes. The Ukrainians in their T-72s(mostly) and scores of other tanks captured from the Russians have been living in them for days on end now. That is no fun. Anyone who has ever looked inside a T-72 will notice right away that it is incredibly cramped inside for its 3-man crew, comprising a commander, gunner, and driver. Here is a video of the inside of a T-72 to give you some idea of just how small and cramped it is.
The Ukrainians have their own T-72s and as many as 250 of Poland’s own variant, known as the PT-91. The Polish version is a significant upgrade over the standard Russian T-72. It’s covered with reactive armor that seriously degrades the penetration power of not just gun rounds but also weapons like the RPG-7 and German Panzerfaust II. It also has Gen 3 thermal sights and a laser designator warning system in case they get painted by laser-guided missiles. The Ukrainians also have good and practiced crews who have had months to train on the better systems in the PT-91.
Fight By Night
Those thermal optics may be the key to Ukraine’s offensive success so far. Thermal optics let your tanks see and fight at night, which Russian tanks simply do not do as a matter of doctrine. If Ukraine has adopted US tank doctrine with Russian tanks with thermal sights, they are moving and fighting at night, the tank commander is out of his hatch adding an important extra set of eyes, and they are bypassing towns and cities and letting the infantry go in and clear out resistance.
While all of this probably makes the Ukrainian tank forces better on a tank for tank and crew for crew basis, it’s still a T-72, and three men have to live in less space than you have in Fiat 500 coupe. Inside this cramped compartment, they have to eat, sleep, urinate and defecate for days on end.
Our own military has studied how long tank crews can remain “buttoned up” inside a tank before it starts to degrade their combat ability. The number of days in a T72 is generally thought to be three days before the guys need to be able to get out, get cleaned up, stretch and sleep lying down. In the M1 Abrams tank, it’s about five days. Ukraine’s own tank crews may be able to go a bit further, given that they are engaged in a successful offensive and are fighting to retake their country. Still, they will need to be replaced with fresh crews, or they will start losing more tanks to this degradation of crew efficiency from being locked in a tuna can together.
Ukraine’s Offensive Could End Up Going Too Far
During WWII, the Germans never once failed to break Russian lines when they attacked, the Russians would sometime appear to retreat headlong, and the Germans would pursue them for miles and miles. The Russians would then attack the flanks of the advancing armored forces and try to cut them off. Or try to. The farther Ukraine presses in, the further it is from its own lines of supply and the closer Russia is its own. Russian attempts to stem the tide are hampered by the mass exodus of tens of thousands of Russia-friendly civilians fleeing to the East. Hopefully, the Ukrainians will know better than to over-extend themselves and be cut off by a determined counter-attack on their flanks.
Pro-Russian Propagandists are having a change of heart.
A Telegram user called WarGonzo, who is a combination of pro-Russian war correspondent and war tourist with 350,000 YouTube followers, over a million on Telegram has been videoing from Russian-occupied Ukraine. His real name is Semyon Pegov, and he’s worked for several Russian media outlets before starting WarGonzo, which is funded by Aram Gabrelianov, an Armenian media mogul. In 2014, the Russian Federation gave him the Order of Honor, one of the highest state awards, “for high professionalism and objectivity in reporting on events in the Republic of Crimea.”
So that tells you who Gabrelianov and Pegov are working for.
Pegov himself is a real piece of work and has repeatedly been caught fabricating stories. Most infamously, in May 2022, he was busted making up a story about a secret, jointly operated NATO/Ukrainian bio-weapons labs located in Mariupol, which was picked up by critics of US aid to Ukraine and spread widely. That same month he also faked a story about Russia shooting down a Ukrainian UAV when raw video footage revealed him telling the Russians to open fire for his camera to record the supposed shoot down.
Well, Pegov released a video on September 9th as he fled Izium as Ukrainian forces advanced. His vehicle ended up with a flat tire, and he seems pretty worried about having to take the last open road out of town in the dark,
Today, via another pro-Russian Telegram account, he had some pretty harsh words for Russian leadership about their sudden turn of fortunes in holding on to Donbas. He seems to have shed his self-made illusions about how things are going over there.
“The fireworks in Moscow looked blasphemous and wild today, against the backdrop of the offensive of Ukrainian troops in the Kharkov region. This illumination has become fat, and I hope the final line under the completely schizophrenic position of the Russian power circles in denying the war.
From the very beginning, through the mouths of Peskov, Zakharova and others, we observed the birth of an “alternative universe”, where the war was a “special operation” with limited goals, where there were negotiations with Kyiv, where there were no goals, and the results of hostilities.
The war became routinized, pushed with all its might to the gates of society’s consciousness. In parallel, the Russian Ministry of Defense launched a “witch hunt” in order to monopolize information about the conduct of hostilities.
All independent opinions were called traitors and spies of Ukraine.
As a result, the society turned out to be disorientated, and actually left face to face with the aggressive propaganda of Ukraine.
A false, imposed consensus has formed at the top that events are developing according to the Crimean scenario, that there is peace and grace in the liberated territories, and Ukraine will come to terms with the results of the referendum.
Against this background, the process of pumping up Ukraine with weapons, training new units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was gaining momentum.
Ukraine transferred the fighting to the territory of Russia, almost daily shelling the border areas, arranging sabotage and explosions.
A terrorist war grew in the liberated territories, political assassinations of pro-Russian public leaders and officials were committed.
Daily, multiple rocket attacks on bridges, transport hubs, warehouses, and critical infrastructure facilities have become routine.
All this was diligently blotted out of the cloudless picture of a “bright future”.
And so, in September, the new forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, fully armed and trained by NATO, went on the offensive.
The only plus of this tragic situation is that the reality gap has begun to threaten the statehood of Russia and has become a matter of principle for the active part of Russian society.
The main, destructive minus of the situation was the catastrophic drop in the confidence of the activity of a part of society in the Russian authorities.
Here I do not even take the degree of disappointment and fear of the pro-Russian inhabitants of Ukraine.
Now, in the new conditions, it is difficult to predict when and how the neurosis of mistrust of society will develop into psychosis or immediately go into the deepest social depression.
The relationship between society and government needs to be treated.
We will find out how much the rating of power has suffered and, most importantly, the president of Russia in the near future.
I see the main conclusion of the situation as the need to give those responsible for the operation – the Ministry of Defense and other involved departments – personal political responsibility.
Now the President of Russia is the main holder of all the risks and negative consequences.
All this caudle of incompetent, greedy for power and wealth, and simply unfaithful to Russia, officials are drowning the country, remaining in the shadows.
It’s time to make them all public in their personal responsibility.
The last salute of the past, post-Soviet Russia sounded.
Symbolically, the political pygmy Gorbachev left, who allowed the collapse of a great power.
Now we are facing a new, even more acute threat of loss of statehood.
The bearers of the comprador ideology of post-Soviet Russia should follow their spiritual father.
Russia will again become itself through the birth of a new political elite, tempering like steel, through pressure, fire and blows – into a great power.
Or cease to exist. In the world map, the so-called. There is no place for “Western civilization” for Russia.”