Graveyard for Russian Mercenaries

Late last summer, a plot of land on the edge of a small farming community in southern Russia began to fill with scores of newly dug graves of fighters killed in Ukraine. The resting places were adorned with simple wooden crosses and brightly coloured wreaths that bore the insignia of Russia’s Wagner Group – a feared and secretive private army.

There were around 200 graves at the site on the outskirts of Bakinskaya village in Krasnodar region when Reuters visited in late January. The news agency matched the names of at least 39 of the dead here and at three other nearby cemeteries to Russian court records, publicly available databases and social media accounts. Reuters also spoke to family, friends and lawyers of some of the dead.

Many of the men buried at Bakinskaya were convicts who were recruited by Wagner last year after its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, promised a pardon if prisoners survived six months at the front, this reporting showed. They included a contract killer, murderers, career criminals and people with alcohol problems.

And if you’re sufficiently ignorant, politically docile, you might call the residents of this graveyard…”heroes”.

Veterans Affairs Canada

In April 1915, John McCrae was in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, in the area traditionally called Flanders. Some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place there during that was known as the Second Battle of Ypres

In the trenches, John McCrae tended hundreds of wounded soldiers every day. He was surrounded by the dead and the dying. In a letter to his mother, he wrote of the Battle of Ypres…

The general impression in my mind is of a nightmare. We have been in the most bitter of fights. For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ….. And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way…

And later, he wrote:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

        In Flanders fields.

Some wars are older than any of us…

In a camera phone clip posted on social media [Telegraph Оперативний ЗСУ] Saturday at least four Ukrainian soldiers wait in a muddy trench for the enemy to attack or to receive new orders.
[click sound icon lower right and also go to full screen].

The adage ‘war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror’, is said to date from the First World War and its trench warfare.

Russian rockets land in Poland

There was an immediate storm of reaction after two Russian missiles reportedly went off course over Ukraine and hit a Polish village, killing two people on November 15.

The incident led to widespread calls for Poland to invoke Nato’s Article 5 that calls on all Nato members to come to the aid of any member that is attacked by a hostile power. Some called the missile strike the “Sarajevo moment” of the Ukrainian war, referring to the assassin’s bomb in the Serbian capital that sparked World War I. And conspiracy theories of what actually happened abounded…

According to initial reports, one or two Russian missiles fell near the village of Przewodu in Lublin Voivodeship, on the border with Ukraine, where they hit a farm and killed two residents. US intelligence sources confirmed that the missiles came from Russia and crossed into Poland.

Often…and at best…military hardware relies on explosive force generated over a sizable area to achieve a goal. Not precision guidance.

The latest video news discussions from Europe further advance the conclusion these were Russian SA-20 series anti-aircraft missiles. Typically fired in pairs to bracket incoming aircraft (or, nowadays, incoming missiles), debris has been identified as “probable” Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles.