Early in their present conflict with the Northern Coalition (NC), it was widely assumed that the Drone Russians (RUS) would quickly spank the NC forces and bounce them from the Drone Regions. However, weeks later, the invasion of that space continues with the NC pressing the Russians on several fronts.
In the Kalevala Expanse, RAGE, Cold Steel and Brick Squad are in possession of roughly half the region and appear to be tightening the noose around R10-GN, while at the same time striking targets of opportunity in the remaining Legion/Shadow of Death and Bloodbound systems. Ratting activity is virtually flat-lined in the region with the exception of the three terminus systems of the 78-6RI constellation held by Shadow of Death, where the single threaded pipeline gives ample warning of any NC forces approaching; Colossal Cube is apparently banking as much ISK as they can in anticipation of a long winter.
While the NC fleets in Etherium Reach continue to harry RUS forces and renters in that region, they have not taken systems beyond LXQ2-T. The key market hub of R-6KYM in the outpost-rich 6-TT8Z constellation is an obvious next target, and there's been a healthy level of combat activity in that area. However, NC may be biding its time; picking up some good fights in a target rich constellation and applying pressure in Etherium Reach to pin down the RUS super cap fleet while NC forces in Kalevala finish off conquest of that region. That would free up sufficient NC forces to hold LXQ while attacking multiple RUS outposts in the Reach simultaneously.
For their part, the Drone Russian forces seem a bit conflicted of late.
On one hand they are a well financed coalition made up of seasoned PvP alliances. They are collectively in possession of the largest Super Cap fleet in all New Eden. At the same time, those ships represent significant financial asset and Legion of Death, Red Alliance, et al are wisely cautious about committing them where a target's value isn't an offset to potential losses. Further, the concentration of power represented by that fleet is, well, concentrated, while the combination of being on defense coupled with the diffused nature of their NC opponents ' forces doesn't allow RUS an obvious place to employ that power without the danger of it being drawn into a high-risk lag-fest.
While RUS forces in Kalevala and the Reach would certainly like to deliver a major blow to the invading forces, I don't have the sense that the coalition at large is overly concerned with NC's invasion. Their take-down of Atlas Alliance and AAA has given them additional, richer territories beyond the Drone Regions. As their forces and renters spread out to occupy this new real estate, the NC attack on the old neighborhood may carry less urgency than it once did; more an opportunity for good fights than a genuine threat. Otherwise, White Noise (though always a bit of an outlier in the coalition) would not be off attacking Systematic-Chaos in Period Basis, IT Alliance's back yard.
There are likely factions within the RUS coalition of the opinion that NC will eventually get bored and go home, after which the Drone Russians will simply reoccupy their space and reinstall their renters. However, once relocated to other systems in RUS space, those renters may be reluctant to return. Legion/Shadow of Death were losing renters even before the invasion. Memories of the high rents and hardscrabble ways of Etherium Reach under Legion will not have their former tenants yearning for a quick return.
2nd Annual Steel City Eve Tomorrow!
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