The collapse of the Ukrainian resistance in Soledar was confirmed by even some of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters, meaning that Bakhmut is expected to fall under Russian control in the coming days. Russian troops are advancing from the south, north and east, creating a potential cauldron that will leave the Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut surrounded, writes Larry Johnson.

The 1960s band Buffalo Springfield had a hit that I think captures the dramatic developments in Ukraine and Russia over the last 36 hours – “There’s Something Happening Here:”

Do you remember my last article? I gave CNN credit for being right about something. Well, rest assured, CNN is again pushing propaganda and failing to understand what’s going on:

Russia’s defense ministry on Wednesday announced another reshuffle of commanders leading the war in Ukraine as criticism mounts over the handling of the stalled campaign.

It said General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, would become the general commander of the campaign and that the current commander, Sergey Surovikin, would become one of his three deputies…

Mark Galeotti, senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said “it’s kind of a demotion [for Gerasimov] or at least the most poisoned chalice. It’s up to him now, and I suspect Putin has unrealistic expectations again.” –

Error. Error. Error. Yes, Chief of General Staff General of the Army Valery Gerasimov was appointed Commander of the Joint Group of Forces and Sergei Surovikin Commander-in-Chief of Air and Space Forces General of the Army. This was not a change of command due to dissatisfaction with Surovikin’s performance over the past three months. On the contrary, I think it is a sign that Russia is paving the way for a major escalation of its operations to eliminate the Ukrainian military threat.

If Surovikin starts targeting the “aerospace forces”, Russian aerospace activities are likely to gain momentum. So far, the Russian air force has played a minimal role in the fighting over the past 11 months. The fact that Gerasimov will be in charge of the Joint Group of Forces is a clear signal that the command task will be more complex and extensive in the future. Cue Bachman Turner Overdrive, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet:

Let me give you a few more pertinent pieces of information. Let’s start with a major movement of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea:

This morning Russian naval ships and submarines left their base in Novorossiysk in the Black Sea en masse. This is highly unusual and may indicate ongoing surgery.

Sources seen by Naval News confirm the exodus. The group included the Project 11711 Ivan Gren class landing ship Pyotr Morgunov, the largest amphibious ship in the Black Sea.

It also included all Project 636.3 Enhanced-Kilo class submarines that were on base. Analysis shows that other warships are also sailing out, leaving only a few warships and support ships in port. It is probably the most empty port of Novorossiysk in many months. – -black-sea/#selection-703.0-715.293

At the same time, Russia continues to build up its armed forces in Belarus:

Personnel, weapons, military and special equipment of the Russian armed forces continue to arrive in Belarus.

This weekend, the Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced that an important tactical flying exercise between the Belarusian and Russian armed forces will take place from the end of January to the beginning of February. The Russian military has more than a dozen helicopters deployed to Belarus, including Mi-8 transport helicopters and Mi-24 and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters. According to British military intelligence, some of the helicopters carry the “Z” war markings used by Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine.

“The new deployment of Russian aircraft in Belarus is probably more of a pure exercise than a preparation for additional offensive operations against Ukraine,” British military intelligence said in its latest estimate of the war. –

One more thing – Where are the Chechens? If you followed the battle of Mariupol in May, social media channels were filled with video footage of the bearded Russian Muslims shouting Allahu Akbar as they crushed the Ukrainian Azov battalion. Now nothing more. They are out there somewhere in large numbers, but have not yet been deployed operationally. Are they preparing for a new offensive?

Put yourself in the shoes of the Ukrainian General Staff. On the eastern front, your soldiers are slaughtered and lose vital territory to Russia. The Bakhmut/Soledar line of defense has been breached. You need to reinforce the Kramatorsk/Slovyanksa line (ER: Also around Donbass), but the number of trained troops is limited.

At the same time, you have to wonder if the Russians are going to launch an amphibious/air assault on Odessa (ER: south south-west). Do you have enough troops or available reinforcements to fortify and defend Odessa? Then there is the construction in Belarus (ER: north-west). Belarus and Russia have amassed enough ground and air forces to pose a credible threat to Kiev.

Where will Russia strike? Therefore, Gerasimov took overall command of these joint forces. He can use feints from troops in the north and south to pin down the Ukrainian troops and launch a major attack from the east. Or he can order all-out attacks from the north, south, and east. He also has other options.

The West and Ukraine claim that Russia will not be able to mount a credible offensive operation until spring. I don’t know if the West is spreading that message as part of a propaganda campaign to convince Russia that Ukraine is not prepared for a winter offensive, or if they really believe it. All I know for sure is that Russia, like a world poker champion, hides its cards and shows Ukraine only what it wants to see. Will Russia go all in or will it keep grinding?