Lots of stuff being reported should be taken with a grain of salt about the war in Ukraine. Lots of stories presented as true later turned out to be false, like the story of the “Ghost of Kyiv” while more than a few false stories have been proven to be true, like the Russia Cruiser Moskva suffering a fire and not a hit from a Neptune cruise missile. Here are a few things we call RUMINT or Rumor Intelligence that may or may not be true and what we think about them.
This a still from a Russian news report saying that new anti-aircraft missile systems have been delivered to Crimea to defend it from air and missile attacks. In the background, you can see an inflatable dummy launcher system which are used as decoys. Ukraine should follow suit with a video of blow-up, inflatable MiG-29s they say are being readied for a strike on Crimea.
The Saki Airbase Attack, Explosion, Accident, or Something
The attack on Saki airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea destroys 9 aircraft, kills one, and wounds 9. Russia was quick to claim that it was a fuel explosion that detonated stored ammunition, no big deal, had minor damage and was under control. Ukraine itself denied any responsibility and agreed the explosions were due to Russian military incompetence. Eyewitnesses said at least 12 explosions occurred, very big ones.
Speculation on the attack ran the full gamut of explanations and possible causes including Russian soldiers smoking near fuel and ammo storage sites, a strike by HIMARs, Ukraine Special Forces planting timed charges, Ukrainian Neptune missiles, or a secret heretofore unknown ballistic missile system entirely new to the battlefield.
A Washington Post article says the attack was carried out by Ukrainian Special Forces that infiltrated the airbase and planted charges.
We wonder if it couldn’t be more than one thing?
Looking at pictures and videos of the airbase we see extensive damage to large sections of the base that go beyond just fire and some ammo exploding. There are at least 9 and possibly as many as 12 aircraft in revetment-type exclosures that are destroyed or badly damaged. We also see three very large craters.
We certainly think that Ukrainian Special Forces could have penetrated the base and planted timed charges in ammo and fuel storage areas to all go off within minutes of each other, but we think there is evidence in the photo above that at least three missiles also hit the base. Those are really big craters and would require a sizable charge to have been concealed or buried in the ground without being noticed. Do we think they are HIMARS? Not really, because the long-range HIMARS rocket is known for being much more accurate and the rockets HIMARS uses are not just one type but a whole family of missiles with different mission capabilities including bomblet-type cluster munitions that explode above ground and are made to destroy aircraft. The hits these rockets made may be instructive. If this was a HIMARS strike the only missile that could reach that far would be the extended range PrSM or Precision Strike Missile, which the US has not said it has given to Ukraine. This missile can reach out 350 miles, and perhaps even longer now that the US has pulled out of the Intermediate-Ranger Nuclear Forces Treaty that imposed caps on its maximum range. The problem with imagining this missile as the type that hit Saki airbase is that it can hit within 3oft of its target and the 3 craters on the airfield suggest a much lower accuracy.
It is probably a Ukrainian missile. A piece that appeared in the Warzone points out that “Victor Andrusiv, who resigned from his position as adviser to the country’s Interior Minister in July for unclear reasons, specifically claimed that Ukraine had missiles with ranges between 200 and 300 kilometers (approximately 124 to 186 miles).”
If these missiles do exist, they are probably the Tochka-U model made in Ukraine with an extended range and could reach Saki airbase from just outside Kherson while displaying the lack of precision in the photo above. We figure the distance at under 130 miles.
The missile crater to the top left destroyed a concrete apron and maintenance hanger. The impact at the top center destroyed a concrete apron where one or two combat jets are generally parked. The impact at the center-left just hit the taxiway. It was probably supposed to hit further to the right and obliterate a line of jet aircraft on the ready alert line, but it missed.
The explosions you see in the video below are probably larger emplaced charges that went off after the missile strikes occurred since the airport is already burning. They go off almost at the exact same moment. This would be hard for two missiles to do unless they were fired at the exact same time. Tochka’s are fired from single tube launchers, so these are probably the charges place by Ukraine SF guys.
A closer video with audio might include the sound of the inbound missiles to confirm this kind of attack, the absence of any contrails coming down from the sky is not unusual, at range it would be out of fuel and the motor shut down.
So we think the attack was comprised of both missile and emplaced charges. While they could have hit fuel and ammo storage facilities with missiles as well, they may have been inside hardened bunkers that would blow up better from within than from without.
There are some implications for this attack that probably relate to two things. For weeks now, Ukraine has been isolating the battlefield around Kherson to starve the Russian army of food, supplies, ammunition, and reinforcements. They have been bombing bridges, rail lines, ammunition, and fuel dumps in rear areas, and now this airfield in Saki which is 15 minutes flying time from Kherson. By rendering it inoperable, or at least putting the Russians on notice that they can bomb it, Russia will have to move the remaining aircraft out of artillery range(something they should have already done) and double or redouble the air defenses in the port of Sevastopol to protect what remains of the Black Sea Fleet based there from missile attacks.
This video shows two identical massive explosions that happened at almost the same moment in two different parts of the Russian Saki airbase in occupied Crimea. This is the best proof of a missile strike. Probably GPS-guided missiles hit ammo depots pic.twitter.com/D8ZMUcmOXB
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) August 9, 2022
North Korea To Send 100,000 Volunteers to Russia
The New York Post says that the Russian journalist Igor Korotchenko claimed on Russian state media, Russia Channel One that North Korea is offering 100,000 volunteers willing to go to Russia to fight in Ukraine proper or in the territories occupied by Russia. We are these claims with an entire salt mine.
While we have no doubt a Communist regime like North Korea could find 100,000 guys to “volunteer” just by ripping 300 pages out of the phone book in Pyongyang. We are also prepared to stipulate that these volunteers would be happy with eating maybe 3-4 times a week while on the front in Ukraine under constant artillery fire. That would be a vacation for the average North Korean where starvation is so rampant, that the population is actually shrinking in size.
For Russia, the problems with getting 100,000 new volunteers into Ukraine begin with the offer itself. First, it has to move 100,000 people across the breadth of Asia by rail from North Korea, through China and then to Russia. They will probably be shackled to the rail cars to prevent them from jumping off in China or some other point along the way. Once they arrive in Russia, Putin will have to provide them with uniforms, weapons, ammunition, food, water, and something approximating shelter.
And Russia can’t do that properly for the army it has in the field right now.
There is also one hell of a language barrier to overcome in order to command these troops.
Finally, this report comes from a Russian “Journalist” which is not the same thing as it coming from the Russian Foreign Ministry, this is probably a fluff piece to make Russian viewers like they still have friends in the world, when they mostly don’t.