Russian tanks, trucks, and MLRS on trains being transported to the frontlines (CIT/Twitter)
As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 3-day plan to subdue Ukraine runs into its 63rd day, Russia and the rest of the world continue to be shocked by the stalwart resistance of Ukraine. Unbeknownst to the world, there is a small group of Belarusian Saboteurs who are helping the Ukrainians fight off the Russians.
There are two generally accepted reasons why the Ukrainians have been able to hold out for this long. First is the unexpected capability and morale of Ukrainian fighters, who were more prepared to fight than most would have predicted. Second is the poor performance of the Russian army in Ukraine who the experts grossly overrated.
A covert network of Belarusian hackers, rail workers, and security force defectors have been working behind the scenes in their home country to cut off the Russian invasion force from much-needed supplies during the first phase of the war when the Russians were trying to invade Kyiv. Particularly, the group was also part of the reason why the 40-mile Russian convoy had stalled just outside of Kyiv.
SOFREP previously reported on the Ukrainian Special Forces, which used claymores to destroy the convoy, and the elite drone unit Aerorozvidka, which attacked the 40-mile Russian convoy with drones while they were freezing and starving to death.
These saboteurs attacked a series of railway links in Belarus that connect Russia to Ukraine. The group targeted control panels which were essential in running the rail systems. The attacks proved to be simple but effective, resulting in a deadlock that lasted for several days in the train system. This forced the Russian troops to redirect their supply lines by the road.
The network has been at work since the first days of the invasion. Although it is difficult to quantify their contributions, disrupting the signaling systems will often force trains to slow down to a crawl and restrict the number of cars in operation.
“Given the Russian reliance on trains, I’m sure it contributed to some of the problems they had in the north. It would have slowed down their ability to move,” a research fellow at the U.K.-based Royal United Services Institute, Emily Ferris, said. “They couldn’t push further into Ukrainian territory and snarled their supply lines because they had to rely on trucks.”
The disruptions also bought the Ukrainian fighters time to evaluate the Russian invasion and adopt an appropriate strategy for its defense.
“I can’t say we were the most important factor, but we were an important brick in the wall,” Belarusian activist and trade unionist Yury Ravavoi said.
The effects of the attacks were mostly felt in the Kyiv region, which is on the northern side of Ukraine. Disrupted supply lines are, in large part, one of the contributing factors that stopped the Russian army from ever occupying the Ukrainian capital. According to the Pentagon, Russian troops stationed in Belarus are now being deployed to the eastern front as part of Moscow’s strategy shift.
“We believe the fact that the Russians gave up on taking Kyiv is a result of our work because the Russians didn’t feel as safe in Belarus as they had expected,” Franak Viacorka said. He is the spokesperson for Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“Thousands of Russian troops didn’t receive food, they didn’t receive fuel, and they didn’t receive equipment on time,” he added.
Head of the Ukrainian Railway Company, Oleksandr Kamyshin, hinted in an interview that the actions of Belarusian “partisans” caused a halt in railway shipments of Russian supplies for some time.
“I will not specify the details, but I am grateful to Belarusian railway workers for what they are doing,” Kamyshin said. “They are brave and honest people who have helped us.”
Lessons from History
According to sources, the saboteurs drew inspiration from World War II Belarusian history, specifically during the time the country was resisting Nazi occupation. The Rail Wars, as they called it, saw Belarusian partisan units attack German-built railways and train stations to disrupt the Nazi war machine. This story is a glorified part of Belarusian history and is being taught in schools.
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Decades later, the Belarusians are once again rising up against an authoritarian force, this time in the form of Putin’s Russia. The deployment of thousands of Russian troops through Belarus has caused widespread displeasure toward Russians and the Belarus government for being the staging area for the northern attack route to Kyiv, which ultimately led these saboteurs to do their work in the background.
Former security official Lt. Col Alexander Azarov said that there are three primary factions involved in the sabotage: IT specialists, railway workers, and former security force members. Rail workers leak information on Russian deployment and the location of key equipment. Another group picks up the intel and formulates an attack.
“Our movement is not centralized,” Azarov said. “It’s not like there’s a leader of the resistance. It’s horizontal, with dozens of groups working on the ground.”
Unlike their World War II predecessors, today’s Belarusian saboteurs intend to limit the casualties of their attacks to equipment, not people.
“We didn’t want to kill any Russian army or Belarusian train drivers. We used a peaceful way to stop them,” Ravovoi said, who refrained from giving further details on how the attacks were being coordinated for the safety of the saboteurs.
Belarusian Saboteurs and a Potential Price to Pay
Launching attacks on the Russian supply line comes with risk. Belarusian authorities have launched an effort to stop attacks on the railways and track down the saboteurs. They have also released a decree which brands such attacks as terrorism, which may lead to 20 years in prison.
Early in April, four men were arrested under suspicion of trying to sabotage the railway. Released video footage shows the men bloodied and bruised. The men were shot with live ammunition because they allegedly resisted arrest.
“The regime now shoots with live ammunition at people who attempt to stop and sabotage railways. Lukashenko would rather kill his own citizens than stop helping Russia in its war,” Belarusian journalist Hanna Liubakova wrote in a tweet with a video of the arrested men.
Yeah I know as its RACIST! Grumpy
I am still amazed at these Folks. Seeing that they basically are doing a suicide mission on live TV. Because they are sitting on top of a gas station that just caught fire. I am convinced that all of them had solid brass balls that clanked when they walked! Grumpy
The 7mm bore diameter is one of those all-around choices that Americans have fallen deeply in love with, despite our undeniable aversion to the metric system. Whether we call it 7mm, .28, .280 or .284, the simple fact remains: it is a well-balanced choice which has a range of bullet weights suitable for just about any big game hunting, save the true heavyweights. Mauser showed us the benefit of the 7mm bullets in the late 19th century when he introduced the 7x57mm Mauser, also known as the .275 Rigby in British circles. The lighter 100- and 120-grain bullets are perfect for smaller deer species as well as coyotes, foxes and other furbearers, while the 140- to 175-grain slugs are usually reserved for the larger species. Some legendary hunting figures like W.D.M. Bell and Col. Jim Corbett used the heavy bullets in the 7x57mm/.275 Rigby to take animals as formidable as elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and tiger.
Though the 7x57mm Mauser is still a wonderfully viable hunting cartridge, it wasn’t long before the bullet was stuffed into a more voluminous case in order to achieve higher velocities. In 1912, Holland and Holland released two belted cartridges, one which would go onto fame and glory, and one which would fade into obscurity. The .375 H&H Belted Magnum remains a staple in the hunting world, but the .275 H&H Magnum wouldn’t really catch on. Based on a shorter version of the .375 H&H—cut down to 2.50 inches—the .275 H&H Magnum bears an uncanny resemblance to the 7mm Remington Magnum which would take another half-century to grab the shooting world’s attention. Once the 7mm Rem. Mag. was announced, the hunting world’s love for a speedy 7mm cartridge was cemented. Yes, Weatherby’s own 7mm Magnum was out a bit earlier, but never quite got the reception that the 7mm Remington Magnum did.
Just about every case shape imaginable has been modified to hold both 7mm and .30-caliber bullets, but it was gunwriter Layne Simpson who saw the gap in the lineup: there was no 7mm cartridge based on a full-length .375 H&H case. Simpson took the excellent 8mm Remington Magnum—measuring the same 2.850 inches as the .375 H&H Magnum—and necked it down to hold 7mm bullets in 1979, giving his wildcat the name Shooting Times Westerner. Simpson was a regular contributor to Shooting Times magazine and deemed the cartridge ideal for western hunting, and so the 7mm STW was born. Though Simpson’s design was probably not the first to fill this role, it gained SAAMI acceptance in 1996, becoming a factory-loaded cartridge the following year.
The cartridge maintains the same 3.600-inch overall length as the .375 H&H, so a magnum receiver will best house the long case. Though it uses the belt for headspacing, in my experience best accuracy is achieved when the case is resized to headspace off the 25-degree shoulder. Most belted cases will demonstrate significant stretching upon the first firing, and the 7mm STW is no exception. Much as Simpson intended, the 7mm STW is a speed demon, sending even the heavy-for-caliber 175-grain bullets downrange at a muzzle velocity at or near 3000 fps. Yes, the cartridge is certainly overbore—and has the ability to erode a throat quicker than most—but if the barrel is kept cool and isn’t used for long target practice sessions, it should give a lifetime of service. As should be expected, recoil is on the stout side of things, and the belted case is prone to stretching just above the belt—one reason many shooters embraced the belted 7mm Remington Ultra Magnum as a choice for a fast 7mm.
The 7mm STW will give a very respectable trajectory; the 162-grain Hornady ELD-X load will print 6 inches low at 300 yards when using a 200-yard zero, and only 17 inches low at 400 yards. And even at 400 yards, it retains over 2,000 ft.-lbs. of energy.
Factory ammunition for the 7mm STW is becoming increasingly rare, I’m sad to say. Nosler, which has done a great job of keeping some of the more obscure cartridges alive, offers four different loads for the STW, including the 140-grain Partition, 140-grain and 160-grain AccuBond and the 175-grain AccuBond Long Range. Federal loads their fantastic 160-grain Trophy Bonded Tip at 3100 fps, and Hornady’s Precision Hunter line features the 162-grain ELD-X bullet at 3050 fps. But not all of these factory loads are readily available, even in times of plenty; the 7mm STW just doesn’t generate enough demand to warrant a constant supply, and seems to have been relegated to seasonal or limited runs.
Component brass is available from Nosler—and I really enjoy their brass, as it is wonderfully consistent and ready to be loaded, right from the box—and there are such a wonderful selection of 7mm bullets of all conformations and configurations that a shooter might not have enough time to try even half of them. And, if you are interested in using a 7mm STW rifle with some regularity, handloading the cartridge makes the most sense. Look to a good large rifle magnum primer—I prefer the Federal Gold Medal Match GM215M—and a healthy amount of a slow-burning powder. RETUMBO, H1000, Reloder 19, 22, 23, 25 and 26, IMR7828 and IMR7977, Norma’s MRP and Accurate’s MAGPRO are all solid choices for the big case, so there’s no lack of propellants to choose from.
Has the speed race ended? Have we gotten to the point where the shooting community has officially traded muzzle velocity for ballistic coefficient? Well, I think we’re headed that way, but we’re not there yet, and I’m not sure we need to take the plunge entirely. There are times when in the hunting fields I appreciate the horsepower of faster cartridges, and the 7mm STW certainly has horsepower.
Howard Miller, who has hunted with my dad for well over half a century, uses the 7mm STW for hunting whitetails across the wide open hay lots on the east side of the Hudson River. “Phil, they’re dead in their tracks; there’s no need to look for them.” Howie is a crack shot, and has probably shot more deer than I ever will. He is well-versed in ballistics, with plenty of real-world experience, and his endorsement is a strong one for the 7mm STW.