MOD collegiums are not usually a forum for launching major updates. Mostly they are updates mil policy and modernization. Today's event was a little different and Putin again laid down his thinking on Ukraine. Storm clouds gather. My observations below (1/x).
1st: Putin's remarks are not new but lately but when you hear the tone and the alignment of forces behind it - it's an old pain & old frustration w/the security situation near Russia's border. Through his "doorstep" remarks he's all but saying he's unwilling to be cornered(2/x)
Shoygu's assessment that 120 American PMCs in Donetsk w/chemical weapons of some kind. Pardon my skepticism but don't Russian proxies and or Russian intel or others control that area? If so why would they NOT seize said actors for the PR alone? Unless it's a total canard. (3/x)
Shoygu saying Russian armies and brigades can deploy 3500 miles from home garrison, is probably the most direct confirmation right now from him about forces pooling near Ukraine. That's still pretty obscure of a reference, but he knows his target audience will understand (4/x)
Putin/Shoygu discuss how unacceptable it is for Russia if US or NATO intermediate range weapons and hypersonics near Russia. They follow that by saying RUssia continues to field the Kinzhal ALBM (Mach 10+, 2000K range). Totally discordant (5/x)
And yes, I played "where's Waldo: General Staff edition" - and found Surovkin (again, these seniors cannot skip this meeting no matter how busy they are) (6/X)
Putin was more revealing in this session than the military brass, which is expected for this format. His frustration and pessimism is palpable, the Kremlin draws the line on the ground with forces & trying to get talks ASAP. I am concerned the diplomatic window is narrowing(7/x)
It's probably wise to be prepared for a possible phase of Russian military pressure tactics in the weeks ahead, like squadrons start going up near Crimea; I see a few new NOTAMs there for next few weeks. maybe more provocative actions against US/NATO aircraft. (8/x)
To me there's nothing from this meeting & other recent actions, that suggest this is trending in a de-escalating manner for any parties - Ukraine, Russia, U.S./NATO. Every day the parties don't actively choose de-escalation, it seems like they choose a drift to conflict (9/x)

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More from @MassDara

21 Nov
Lots to unpack from today’s Military Times interview - Ukrainian Military Intelligence assessment on Russian forces and what they might do. They predict a winter-spring offensive (/thread)
Here is the link (/2) :…
Ukrainian Intel predicts an offensive January and February. Some of the items on this map I am assuming are future assessment — for example multiple airborne forces in Belarus (/3)
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I compared Russia’s new National Security Strategy with the 2015 NSS and other recent RS strategies.The new NSS incorporates familiar concepts. It reads as very closed off: more survivalist in tone and all refs to cooperation with the West were deleted. Observations below. /
There’s been some reorganization throughout, and IMO not to the betterment of the document. What’s new in the 2021 NSS: ✅ 2/
✅ New ‘bottom line up front’ paragraph that is perhaps a mission statement of sorts: Russia is a sovereign state that has resisted external pressure, economic resilience in the face of sanctions 3/
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8 Jan 20
I’m not an Iran expert. But I am a military analyst. When I see the impact points of Iran’s strike on Asad air base, I don’t see purely symbolic strikes designed to avoid casualties, as some have speculated. The strikes appear to target the base’s military capability.
The missiles struck equipment and storage buildings on the infrastructure (populated) side of the base. The impacts *are not* scattershot across empty fields or airstrips on the southern side of the base (image from December)
There aren’t public U.S. confirmations about the number of Iranian missiles launched that failed to arrive on target. Without knowing where other missiles would have landed, it’s hard to assess the full targeting strategy.
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