Question O’ The Day:
Having found out how weak, unprepared and frankly defenseless the Soviet Union was — i.e. driving trucks with long tubes around to pretend to have a lot more missiles — I’ve begun to wonder if anything — any story ever told by international media — was ever true?–Sarah Hoyt

Now the smoke is dissipating, and the mirrors are broken. What comes next?

Former Kremlin mercenary: Russian army was not prepared for a real war; Kremlin propaganda’s Janus face.

I’m traveling for work, with limited internet access. A couple things though:

(a) A former mercenary with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group, quoted on the Telegraph’s live blog today:

Russian forces were “caught by surprise” by the fierce resistance of the Ukrainian army, according to a former mercenary who fought with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group.

Marat Gabidullin took part in Wagner Group missions on the Kremlin’s behalf in Syria and in a previous conflict in Ukraine, before quitting the group in 2019.

“They were caught completely by surprise that the Ukrainian army resisted so fiercely and that they faced the actual army,” Mr Gabidullin said about Russia’s setbacks in Ukraine.

He said people he spoke to on the Russian side had told him they expected to face rag-tag militias when they invaded Ukraine, not well-drilled regular troops.

“I told them: ‘Guys, that’s a mistake’,” said Mr Gabidullin, who refused a call from a recruiter inviting him to go back to fighting as a mercenary in Ukraine several months before Russia launched its invasion.

(b) The head of GCHQ, the British equivalent of the NSA (and the successor organization to the GCCS which cracked Enigma) says out loud what has been obvious for weeks: Western SIGINT [signals intelligence .ed] agencies like GCHQ are passing tactically relevant info to Ukraine in real time.

(c) Russian vlogger Roman, who has fled to Georgia, calls himself a “Bernie Bro” in US political terms (most unlike this blogger here — OK, he has the excuse he’s young enough to be my son ;)), and used to think Russian propaganda abroad only panders to “the right-wingers”. Then he discovered that Russian propaganda efforts actually are Janus-faced: different propaganda trolls pander to left-wing and right-wing audiences. The former carp on again Western imperialism, “Palestine”, social “justice”, a… and sandwich their Russian propaganda ham between slices of that; the latter instead put the ham between slices of anti-woke, anti-CRT, pro-nationalism,… bread.