UPDATE 5 MAY 2022
The Guardian newspaper in London has produced the most accurate map we have seen so far of the contemporary Russian occupation of Ukraine.
The map appears here:
We make no observations about the textual content of the article, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with anything said in it. We simply observe that the map of Russian occupation appearing after paragraph 19 of the article, the map being entitled 'Russia's war in Ukraine: latest developments', is the most accurate map we have seen about this subject as of today.
The map is not perfect; in particular it does not reflect Russian military positions in Odessa oblast. But information about those, in respect to The Guardian, is very hard to come by. The extent of how far east Russian occupation of the riparian north bank of the Khokotva reservoir is also hard to ascertain from this map, as the settlements on the north bank are not identified in this map.
We are grateful to Peter Beaumont of The Guardian for providing this map. It is an example of superior journalistic work.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE 4 MAY 2022
Is Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenskiy is planning his departure from Ukraine with large stacks of cash from the Ukrainian Treasury, itself being US donations? So we have heard from a source. A single source is never enough to solidify an accusation.
However consider the evidence:
Contrary to what one reads in the western media, the war is going appallingly badly for the Ukrainian government.
Although the maps provided to the international media by the Ukrainian government in Kyiv do not convey this, virtually the entirety of the south of Ukraine has been taken by Russian forces, who have encircled and are now engaged in a final assault upon Nikolaev. Odessa is surrounded and the infrastructural links surrounding the city are either controlled by the Russian Armed Forces or have been damaged or destroyed by them. Hence Odessa is entirely dependant upon Russia.
Russian Kalibr hypersonic cruise missiles have been systematically eliminating Ukrainian ammunitions dumps near the Polish border, near Odessa and around Kyiv that store the weaponry that certain western countries have been providing to the Ukrainian Central Government.
The slivers of free Ukrainian territory left in the Donbass are important principally because they represent a series of railheads useful for Russian military logistics. None of these settlements are substantial, and it is inconceivable that the full might of the Russian military on her proximate adjacent borders will not overrun them sooner or later.
The Russian military has quietly but decisively overrun the north bank of the Khokotva reservoir in the amount of 20-30 kilometres. That territory sits in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, in the centre of the country.
The fact that the north bank of the Khokotva Reservoir has been taken indicates that the holdout city of Zaporizhzhiya (the last settlement in Zaporizhzhiya oblast to remain under the control of free Ukraine) can be encircled, deprived of power - if the Russians acquire the hydroelectric power station on the north bank of the reservoir just west of Zaporizhzhiya, in addition to the two power stations they already controlled on the south bank of the reservoir. Control of these three power stations means that the Russians can turn the lights off for most of central and north Ukraine, including the central Ukrainian regional capital Dnipropetrovsk and the capital, Kyiv.
Because the besieged northeastern city of Kharkiv, on the border with Russia, relies mostly upon links to the Russian national grid for its power requirements, Kharkiv"s lights can be turned off at will by the Russian government as well.
From the northern bank of the Khokotva Reservoir, it is a straight run to Kyiv over flat land from Nikopol, the main town on the north bank of the reservoir.
Russian control of the north bank of the Khokotva Reservoir, territory that lies in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, makes it straightforward to approach and encircle the city of Dnipropetrovsk which is not currently defended and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stretched to capacity, have no remaining resources to defend it.
Unlike the earlier assault on Kyiv, Russian armed forces have sufficient maritime logistical capacity to invade Kyiv (and also Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhiya) from the south, via their control of both banks of the Dniepr river.
Large tracts of the Ukrainian economy have been forcibly 'rublised', including the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhiya, Kherson and Crimea. In the oblasts where this has taken place, Russian law appears to apply. These areas have all now effectively been annexed by Russia.
British military intelligence experts (not a source inclined to be over-generous to Russian interests) have concluded that Russia's success in the war in Ukraine is virtually inevitable.
Zelenskiy has refused all recent negotiation proposals with the Russian Federation, insisting upon the absolutist positions, entirely unrealistic, of the complete withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukrainian territory (including Crimea) and the maintenance of a unified non-federalised Presidential state.
Huge amounts of effectively untied funds contributed by the United States to Kyiv to support the latter's treasury have essentially disappeared and gone unaccounted for. Kyiv has not been publishing any sorts of accounts.
Zelenskiy has removed himself from operational command of such Ukrainian Armed Forces as are remaining (and nobody is producing accurate numbers anymore), instead hiving himself off secretly with some of his closest advisors to discuss unminuted matters.
The Ukrainian government has stopped producing reliable frequent western-orientated briefings upon military matters and even about war crimes allegations.
Zelenskiy's only other activities are nonstop dialogues with a range of more or less influential western leaders.
Zelenskiy has no direct, indirect or clandestine contacts with the government of Russia of any kind. Indeed he actively opposes the opportunity to have any such contacts.
The United States has already invited Zelenskiy to be evacuated from theatre, at least once.
Russian specialist military units have already tried to kidnap or kill him on at least one occasion.
The conclusion we invite the reader to draw is that Zelenskiy is no longer fighting this war but is instead making his plans to flee Kyiv and possibly Ukraine, potentially to set up a government in exile in the face of the inexorable Russian advance.
But now consider whether it will be easy or straightforward for him to achieve this goal.
By reason of their technological prowess, the Russians can be expected to track his every movement and those of his closest advisors, either by triangulating his mobile 'phone coordinates or by monitoring the source of his usage of electronic communications.
The Russians may also be spying on his conversations, using their same technological prowess.
Russians also have access to low-orbit spy satellites, just as does the West, that may be able to track the movements of individuals, groups of individuals or vehicles associated with them.
In the circumstances, it will be extremely difficult for Zelenskiy to leave Kyiv without the Russians tracking his movements, irrespective of how many precautions he may undertake.
The Russians surely remain adhered to their original invasion policy, which was/is to replace Zelenskiy with a Ukrainian President that, while amenable to the West, is more inclined to have regard to their interests and in particular to communicate with them regularly.
That person is surely the former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who returned from exile abroad to face 'corruption charges' in Kyiv just before the war began.
To suffer Zelenskiy running a 'government in exile', whether in L'viv or (more likely) in NATO member Poland, running off with what must literally be assumed to be bags of cash, would be a substantial hindrance to Russia's project of installing a more compliant Ukrainian President with whom Russia could do business including forging a peace agreement.
Hence irrespective of whether Zelenskiy seeks to exit theatre via train or road (presumably to eastern Poland), it is entirely plausible that Russia will track him.
Russia may then seek to destroy the rail tracks or road ahead of Zelenskiy's transportation vehicle using a highly precise hypersonic cruise missile called the Kalibr, which has recently been used to destroy Ukrainian ammunition dumps hoarding western-donated military equipment.
After Zelenskiy is stopped in his tracks, an elite Russian military intelligence GRU unit pre-situated in the environs may stop him permanently.
Hence what happens next may be uncertain and exciting. The future of the idea of a Ukrainian government in exile, that would leave Ukraine indefinitely in political suspense, may be at stake.