Russia’s Worst Day Ever Arrives

Four days before the dictatorship elects the same President

Shankar Narayan
4 min readMar 12, 2024

Everything that can possibly go wrong went wrong for the Russians today.

Their offensive campaign has fizzled out. Just as they were scratching their heads to figure out a way to help the Czar project his inner macho man, Ukraine delivered one of its sharpest-ever drone attacks on multiple targets inside Russia.

Just as the Russians were scrambling to stomp out the fires raging in oil refineries before Russian nationalists vent their ire on social media, the Russian separatist group, Freedom of Legion, drove Russian security services out of a few villages along the Ukrainian border.

Just as the Russians were scrambling to understand what was happening in their border towns, an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane crashed to the ground and broke into multiple pieces.

Ouch. Ouch and even more Ouch.

Did I forget to mention that it has been days since the Black Sea Fleet entered the Black Sea and the Russian Air Force has grounded its small fleet of A50 early warning aircrafts?

Where do I start?

I am slightly confused.

Let’s start with the drones.

Ukraine deployed more than two dozen drones to strike targets in Russia, one of which targeted an oil refinery in the Russian region of Nizhny Novgorod, responsible for nearly 6% of Russia’s total refined crude production. Another group of drones hit an oil depot in the city of Oryol.

Nizhny Novgorod is nearly 1,000km from the Ukrainian border. Ukraine’s drones are not only traveling more than 1,000 km, but they are also able to evade the air defenses installed in the oil facilities.

Ukraine’s escalating drone attacks on Russian oil refineries have already caused a production shortfall. Russia has banned the export of petrol for six months to avoid domestic shortages.

The attacks on oil facilities coincided with the cross-border incursion of three Russian separatists groups into Belgorod, Bryansk, and Kursk regions.

“Members of the Siberia, Freedom of Russia Legion and RDK battalions released video footage that they said showed a ground assault supported by at least one tank and other armoured vehicles. In the videos, shot on bodycams and also from drones flying overhead, the troops overran Russian border checkpoints and released footage of pitched fighting in local settlements”.

The Freedom of Russia Legion claimed to have captured the town of Tetkino in the Kursk region.

“This is only the first day (of the operation). But the elections, as we know, are only at the end of the week… All the most interesting things are yet to come,” said Alexei Baranovsky, a spokesperson for the Freedom of Russia Legion. “We are distracting the reserves, the attention of the Russian army. They are forced to transfer reserves.. this is also our contribution to the defence of Ukraine,” he said.

Where did Freedom of Russia Legion get its Tanks?

Do you remember Donbas, Mr. Putin?

If not, surely Malaysian Airlines MH-17 rings a bell, doesn’t it? When your minions killed two hundred and ninety-eight innocent humans — fathers, mothers, children, families — shot down by a Buk missile?

Wherever the Donbas separatists acquired their weapons, it’s likely the same type of source the Freedom of Russia legion used. The Russia-Ukraine border is notorious for weapons sales, Mr. Putin. It has been like that since 2014.

Makeshift memorial at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in the Ukraine on 17 July 2014 killing all 298 people on board. (Photo by Roman Boed)

This is asymmetric warfare

In terms of yield, these cross-border attacks by Russian separatists will not yield much. However, they stretch Russian troops and tax Russian internal security systems. The legion is not going to stay there and engage in dug-in fights.

Similar to what the Russians attempted to achieve in Avdiivka, the informational value of such attacks will far outweigh the territory taken under control. Russians will have no choice but to respond to this attack. They will send their troops. By the time they arrive, the legion may have relocated elsewhere and simply vanished. The idea is to increase the problems faced by Putin.

With just four days until the election, Putin will be breathing fire.

How much of a headache is this for Putin?

Nothing really. This is not going to change the outcome of the election. He will be president again.

We cannot look at this as a singular event. There is a whole list of things Ukraine has been doing to take the attack to Russia. Ukraine should have explored every possible avenue to launch attacks inside Russia. It is only now, since the second half of last year, that Ukraine has begun taking the attack to the Russians.

Ukraine’s long-range drone attacks have massive potential to drain the Russian coffers. These attacks are gaining strength and increasing in frequency. Russia has too many oil facilities within a 1,000 km range from the Ukrainian border. All those facilities now need air-defense systems. Even then, it may not be enough because Ukraine’s swarm attacks are steadily increasing in size. Russians have to accept a level of loss and continually fix what Ukrainians break.

Similar to what Ukrainians did when Russia kept breaking its utilities last year.

Putin gets the taste of his own medicine.

The way Western media covers the war against Ukraine has gone off-track. As a result, I have decided to make my Ukraine stories public, without placing them behind the paywall.



Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.