There is still little movement in the front lines. The mud season (in Russian “rasputitsa”; in Ukrainian “bezdorizhzhya”) has arrived and it affects both sides.
On Sunday, October 23, Ukraine had a breakthrough near Kreminna (north of the Donbass). This did not last long: Russia quickly built a new line of defense. A few days later, Kadyrov posted a message on Telegram in which he blamed General Lapin for the breakthrough. He had also criticized this general a few weeks earlier. On Saturday, reports appeared on Telegram that the general had been fired. There is a lot of different speculation on Telegram about what is going on but nothing has been officially announced. At the moment it seems most likely to me that he has resigned. There would be a medical examination and vacation and then appointment in another position.
Meanwhile, the propaganda war is ramped up to unprecedented heights. In the West, we mainly see the pro-Ukrainian side of this. Typical examples were headlines along the lines of “Russia blew up Nord Stream, says Ukraine“. In this way, “consensus” is gradually created. Russia's opinion is especially shown later, after consensus on the facts has been established. It then mainly illustrates that Russia is lying. Of course you can see the same mechanism at work in mirror image in Russia.
In the “fog of war” it is generally impossible to know the exact reality. I'm just trying to present the arguments here. Everyone can draw their own conclusions.
In his September 21 speech in which Putin announced the mobilization, he also said the following:
Nuclear blackmail has started. Not only does it mean attacks on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant supported by the west, but also statements by some representatives of NATO countries about the possibility and admissibility of using mass nuclear weapons against Russia.
Those who make such statements against Russia—I'd like to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction. And, in some areas, more advanced than those of NATO countries. If the territorial unity of our country is threatened, in order to protect Russia and our nation, we will unquestionably use all the weapons we have. This is no bluff.
Citizens of Russia can be confident that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom are secured. I will highlight this once again: by any means possible. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the wind might turn back in their direction.
He had made similar statements before. For example, at the start of the war, he said, "And now a few important - very important - words to those who may be tempted to meddle from the sidelines in what's happening. Those who try to get in our way, or create threats to our country and our people, should be aware: Russia's response will be instantaneous and bring the kind of consequences you have never experienced in history."
Russia's nuclear doctrine that it will only use nuclear weapons if it is threatened as a country is by no means new. The reason why it suddenly became an issue is the annexation of four Ukrainian regions. Some of it is under Ukrainian control and the question was how Russia would explain that in the context of its nuclear doctrine.
Meanwhile, Putin has explicitly stated that he sees no need to use nuclear weapons in the current situation and the Pentagon and other Western bodies have also stated that they do not expect it. Incidentally, we should not underestimate the Western willingness to use nuclear weapons.
The US has accelerated the upgrade of its nuclear weapons in Europe. This should now be completed in December.
Finland is said to have consented to the placement of US nuclear weapons on its territory. It would even have been a precondition for joining NATO. There would also be consultations with Poland about placement.
We also see signs of daydreaming that Russia's strategic nuclear weapons may not work. Strategic nuclear weapons are hydrogen bombs and the explosive part of them is tritium. But tritium has a half-life of only 12 and a half years, so it needs to be refreshed regularly. If Russia would have cut back on that (tritium is very expensive), it now has a problem.
John Helmer asked the attention for a report in VZGlyad, a newspaper with good contacts with the Russian secret services. In the article the visit of an US official to a nuclear submarine in the Persian Gulf is discussed. It is highly unusual that the US publishes anything that provides information about the location of its nuclear submarines. That it does that for a location on a relatively short distance to the Russian heartland is interpreted as a subtle threat. Remarkable is that the article considers Russia’s nuclear deterrence as rather weak.
On Thursday, October 27, Zelensky called on the West for a preemptive strike to prevent Russian use of nuclear weapons. This sounded like a call to launch a nuclear attack, but when global outrage erupted, Zelensky rushed to say he didn't mean it that way.
Here is debunking of the claim that Russia wants to use nuclear arms on the War-on-Fakes site.
The pro-Russian Telegram channels have been buzzing for a while. On Sunday, October 23, Western media could no longer ignore the claim that Ukraine was preparing a “dirty bomb”. On that day, Russian defense minister Shoigu - on Putin's orders - phoned his British, American, French and Turkish colleagues. He talked about this subject with at least three of them. Later in the week, Shoigu also called China and India, among others. He also sent a letter to the Security Council. In response, UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi said he would send inspectors to the two sites mentioned by Shoigu. This is done at the request of the Ukrainian government, so the chances of finding anything are slim.
Similarly, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, Chief of the Russian Armed Forces for Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection, gave a briefing Ria Novosti summed up the allegations as: It has become known from various sources that Kiev under the leadership of Western trustees has already begun the practical implementation of this plan. The leadership of the Vostochniy [=eastern] mining and processing plant [SChID-GZK], located in the town of Zhovti Vody in the Dnepropetrovsk region, as well as the Kiev Institute of Nuclear Research, was tasked with creating the very "dirty bomb" . Work on it is already in its final stage.
At the same time, on behalf of Volodymyr Zelensky, employees of the Office of the President of Ukraine from his immediate vicinity are conducting secret contacts with representatives of the UK on the issue of a possible transfer of nuclear weapons components to the Kiev authorities.
The provocation organizers' calculation is that if it is successfully carried out, most countries will react extremely harshly to the "nuclear incident" in Ukraine. As a result, Moscow will lose the support of many of its key partners and the West will once again try to raise the issue in order to strip Russia of permanent UN Security Council status and increase anti-Russian rhetoric.
Ukraine promptly gave its own twist to the message, claiming that if Russia helped this message out, it must mean that they were working on a dirty bomb themselves and that they wanted to hide it that way.
Journalism has once again shown its worst side. The Guardian rejected the Russian claim, stating that there is no evidence that Ukraine has radioactive material in its military arsenal. But Ukraine has a lot of radioactive material at its nuclear power plants and that's all you need for a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is an ordinary bomb that scatters radioactive material.
Slovenia claimed that some of the photos that Russia cites as evidence are old Slovenian photos. But if you look at the photo in question, it is only used as an illustration for what a dirty bomb is and not as proof.
The website The Insider claims that the two institutions mentioned only process low-level radioactive materials. The question is whether this matters. If Ukraine organizes a false flag operation, it probably won't want to use too much radioactive material. It should be enough to impress international public opinion but they won’t want to pollute their country more than is strictly necessary.
I certainly think Ukraine is capable of doing such a thing. Their near-daily shelling of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is in fact also an attempted dirty bomb. They will not easily damage the nuclear power plant itself, the shell is too strong for that. But the storage of nuclear waste is vulnerable.
Tactical Nuclear Weapons
Meanwhile, a similar discussion about tactical nuclear weapons has also erupted. These are weapons for on the battlefield. In the NATO story, Russia would be on the losing side and would like to turn its fortunes around. Russia claims that the West supplies Ukraine with parts of nuclear weapons so that it can stage a false flag nuclear explosion.
An ammonia pipeline runs from Togliatti in Russia to Pivdenny near Odessa, from where the ammonia is exported. The ammonia is used elsewhere in the world - especially North Africa - for fertilizer production. This pipeline was closed at the start of the war. This transport would also be restored as part of the grain agreement. But as in other areas, Russia complains that this has not happened.
The Russian producers are TogliattiAzot and Rossosh. The deal is that it will sell the ammonia at the Ukrainian border to the American company Trammo.
There are also rumors about this pipeline that Ukraine is planning sabotage.
Bayraktak says they hope to have a drone factory ready in Ukraine in two years. The contract for this was signed just before the start of the war in February, but has been delayed due to the war. “Ukraine figures prominently in Baykar's supply chain, especially with the new heavy-lifter drone Akinci and unmanned fighter jet Kizilelma, or Golden Apple, currently under development. Both use Ukrainian engines from Motor Sich and from Ivchenko-Progress.”
The evacuation of residents from Kherson has had an unexpected effect: the city has become more pro-Ukrainian. It turns out that pro-Russian residents are more likely to be evacuated than pro-Ukrainians and as a result, the latter now make up a larger proportion of the population.
This has already led to actions where some traders refused to accept Russian rubles. The Russian government immediately intervened. Punishment for those who continue to do so is exile to Ukraine-controlled territory.
This is not a new phenomenon. Ukraine suffers from a similar problem near the Donbass, where Russia is slowly advancing. There the pro-Ukrainian people leave and the pro-Russians stay.
On Friday, October 28, Defense Minister Shoigu said the mobilization was over and no more soldiers would be called up.
Of the 300,000 called up, 82,000 have already been sent to Ukraine. Half of them have been involved in combat.
The European campaign to buy LNG seems a little too successful. About 10% of the world fleet of LNG tankers hangs around European ports. They cannot unload because much of the LNG storage is already full and the unloading capacity in the ports is also limited. Some may also be unwilling to unload as they consider the prices too low. They now form a kind of expensive mobile reserve.
As a result, gas prices in Europe are falling again. However, the price for gas transport is being pushed up worldwide.
Meanwhile, high gas prices hit developing countries that had become dependent on LNG under Western pressure, such as Bangla Desh.
Europe consumes more than 400 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The storage holds up to 107. In addition, there are limitations on the speed at which it can be inflated. All in all, it remains to be seen how the winter will turn out and shortages can certainly arise if the weather is bad.
Previously, Putin had accused "Anglo-Saxons" of being responsible for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines. Now Defense Minister Shoigu has made that concrete by saying that the British are responsible.
Putin gave one of his major annual speeches in Valdai. On the Kremlin website you can read the speech and the subsequent question and answer session and see the speech dubbed.