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Losing battles to win wars

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Philosophy | 0 comments

The past five days or so have been rather bewildering ones for those of us following developments in the 404 War. Starting on September 9th, basically, the Ukrainians launched a major counteroffensive designed to take back territory in the Kharkov region in the northeast of the country. They set out to push back the Russian troops holding down that region, expanding upon similar attempts dating back to May and June, but on a much larger scale.

By all accounts, at first glance, the Ukrainians were wildly successful. The Russians retreated, seemingly in disarray and chaos, to what they claim to be a more defensible line across the eastern bank of the Oskol River. In the process, they left behind thousands of ethnic Russian civilians, who are now subjected to the tender mercies of Ukrainians who hate them and are now busy persecuting them.

On the evening of September 10th, those of us who are pro-Russian – as I am – were alternating between fury at the bizarrely rushed nature of the Russian retreat, and despair at the thought of the Russians squandering so many of their gains so quickly.

What the hell was going on? Were the Russians really losing? Were the Ukrainians actually winning for a change?

Bring the Doom

Dima from the Military Summary channel on YouTube – he is a Belorussian with apparently pretty decent links to active Russian military personnel – called the retreat a “disaster” for the Russians. Jacob Dreizin summed up the feelings of a lot of people when he stated flat-out that the Russians were experiencing a total collapse in Eastern Kharkov – and, in so doing, took a bunch of shots at Larry Johnson, Grandpa Grumpuss, Brian Berletic, and others who disagreed. (We’ll get to them in a moment.) His response, while perhaps unnecessarily crass, certainly reflected the views of a very large percentage of the Russian-origin Telegram channels that I follow.

At first glance, it was difficult to escape the conclusion that some sort of really serious collapse had taken place. Videos emerged from the Ukrainian side showing THOUSANDS of men marching toward the front lines. The Ukrainian advance was swift and relentless, and rapidly expanded a puncture in the Russian lines at Balakleya into a full-blown deep-penetration strike.

As the front widened, report after report streamed in on September 10th, stating that the Russians were retreating all over the front lines, and that tens of thousands of ethnic Russian refugees were desperately trying to flee into the Belgorod and Kursk regions of Russia.

All, it seemed, was lost for Russia – especially when it turned out that the Allied forces had simply abandoned Izyum outright. For those who have been keeping track, Izyum was a much-ballyhooed strong point for the Russians that they captured all the way back in, like, late March and was supposed to be a staging area for the Russians to push south toward the ultimate Ukrainian strongholds in Donbass – the twin cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, the operational and strategic headquarters of the entire Ukrop military in eastern Ukraine.

Many, self included, were left asking what the hell the Russian General Staff were doing. Had they dropped the ball really badly, thereby condemning thousands of Russians to torture and persecution by the neo-Nazi Banderite shitheads that populate Ukraine’s “army”, such as it is? Did the Russian staff hit the snooze button, somehow? Was there a massive intelligence failure, given that Ukraine had very clearly been building up their forces in that region since late August?

It all looked really bad for the Russians – for all of about a day or two.

Warfare is Deception

However, as details emerged on the 11th, many of us began to realise that, in fact, the Russians were playing a very sophisticated and potent operational game.

More sober-minded military analysts – the aforementioned characters like Larry Johnson, Andrei Martyanov, and Brian Berletic as above – looked at the Russian disposition of forces in eastern Ukraine and noticed a number of odd discrepancies.

First, the Allied defensive line all along that part of the front was unusually thinly defended. Unlike in Kherson region, where the hohols tried repeatedly to break through with massive waves of men and machines, and were smashed to bloody gruel each time, the Ukrops broke through with surprising ease northeast of Kharkov. This pointed to a very lightly manned defensive force – and that turned out to be true, in fact, the Russians had just ONE Battalion Tactical Group in the area (i.e. about 300 men at most), and the LDNR militias had just a few hundred men defending that sector.

Second, there appeared to be very few Russian casualties in the fighting – a few hundreds, at most, and the majority of them wounded, not killed. This is not at all typical of panicked retreats, routs, and fighting withdrawals. Typically, when you get caught with your pants down and have to do a runner, you don’t withdraw in good order.

The Russians, by contrast, appeared to have drawn down their forces in that region well before the Khreat Khokholite Kharkov Khounteroffensive ever even began. The hohols themselves confirmed this suspicion when their own fighters took to social media in frustration, stating openly that the Russians were actually withdrawing in good order and that the hated “occupiers” were suffering very little as they withdrew.

More evidence began to emerge that mocked Ukrainian claims of having captured vast amounts of abandoned Russian equipment. Videos posted by hohols on their Telegram channels turned out to be repurposed videos from Russian scrapyards and from other videos much earlier in the war, when Russia did, in fact, abandon a lot of old and broken equipment during its mad all-out rush to pin down Ukrainian forces in the northern Ukrainian cities.

It turned out that, while we weren’t looking, the Russians had executed a masterful fighting withdrawal – one that, when looked at objectively and dispassionately, speaks to an exceptionally high level of Russian operational capability that we would all do well to observe and learn from.

And, when the dust began to settle, that was the conclusion reached by many of the more level-headed analysts – certainly they were much more level-headed than I was at the time: that the Russian General Staff actually does have a clue, and does know what it is doing.

Humbuggery of the Highest Order

If you watch that most excellent made-for-TV movie, Sharpe’s Waterloo, you will come across a scene in which Richard Sharpe meets the Duke of Wellington, and delivers to him the message that Napoleon has hoodwinked him and outmanoeuvred the allied forces. Wellington’s response is one for the ages – and it summarises rather well what the Russians did in northern Ukraine over the past few days.

As far as anyone can tell, this is roughly what happened:

The Russian General Staff observed the lack of progress made south of Izyum, due to the different priorities of the LDNR militias who are doing the real fighting on the ground, and decided that the terrain and operational situation simply were not favourable for a large concentrated force of tanks and infantry. They also looked at the demands of maintaining a 1,600Km front, and realised very quickly that defending every metre of territory was an impossible demand.

So they decided to shorten their defensive and supply lines, move their troops around to areas where they could do a lot more good, and thin out their lines around Kharkov. Indeed, it appears that the Russian drawdown around northeast Ukraine had been happening for months, not merely a few days – which is why the Russians left little, if any, actual equipment for the enemy to capture.

The Khreat Khokholite Kharkov Khounteroffensive simply gave them the excuse that they needed to pull all of their remaining men out of the region and back across the Oskol River, while also fighting rearguard actions designed to confuse, delay, and pin down the hohols for as long as possible. These manoeuvres also allowed the Russians to smash the Ukrainians with extremely heavy artillery and air strikes – areas where the Ukrainians have no answers to what the Russians can dish out.

The Russians were apparently outnumbered up to EIGHT-TO-ONE at various areas along the Kharkov front line. Yet they withdrew almost their entire force intact over the bridges of the Oskol, toward the eastern side of Kupyansk, toward Krasniy Liman, and other strongholds, where they have (so far) stopped the Ukrainian advance cold, with hideous losses for the Ukrops. Initial estimates indicate that the Russians, fighting 8:1 odds, dished out casualties at a rate of anywhere between 1:5 to 1:10.

However, in the process, the Russians made the extremely cold-blooded decision to abandon thousands of Russian-speaking civilians to arrest, possible torture, and maybe even execution. We are already seeing and hearing reports of the hohols rounding up civilian “collaborators” and imprisoning them, or even shooting them outright. Reports abound of looting and pillaging by the hohols, particularly their most odious Banderite paramilitary forces, all over their old-new-old territories.

And this has enraged the Russian public, to a degree that even perhaps the General Staff did not anticipate. Parts of the Russian public are baying for blood, for heads to roll, and for a major shake-up of the command structure to stop these flagrant abuses and outright war crimes.

The Tides of War

Let me be very clear at this point that I have zero right to sit as a judge on any commanding officer on military matters. I have never served in the military, so my knowledge of tactical, operational, and strategic art is worse than useless.

Therefore, I refuse to condemn what the Russian General Staff did. I think that their objective was to preserve the lives of the Russian soldiers, who are not easily replaced, and to position the Russian military in such a way as to maximise its chances of inflicting devastating damage upon the enemy.

In so doing, the Russian General Staff risked losing the moral legitimacy that they have with the Russian people. With the passage of a few days, though, I think that this threat has greatly subsided, because the Russians see that the front lines have stabilised, and the Ukrainians have paid dearly in blood for every centimetre of ground gained.

I am not joking about that last part. Casualties on the Ukrainian side from last Friday to today are CONSERVATIVELY estimated at 3,000 dead, and probably at least that number in severely wounded. Given that the size of the Ukrainian force deployed toward Kharkov region was between 9,000 and 15,000, and given that the Ukrainians literally threw away the lives of at least 8,000 men in the Kherson region during their colossally failed Khreat Khokholite Kherson Khounteroffensive at the end of August, we can conclude that the Ukrainians have lost up to THREE DIVISIONS worth of combat power, in as many weeks, if you add up dead and severely wounded. At the absolute best, those three divisions have been rendered nearly combat-ineffective.

The Ukrainians built up a reserve of, apparently, about 45,000 men (again, about 3 divisions), armed with NATO equipment and trained to NATO standards, and now are busy throwing them away in this latest set of offensives. Apparently, the latest news is that Zelensky, the Clown-Pecker-Piano-Playing-Puppet-President, has ordered whatever forces remain from the now-stalled Kharkov Khounteroffensive to redeploy back toward Kherson.

This yo-yo effect surely cannot be good for morale, or for battlefield cohesion. It gives the Russians time to regroup and regain the initiative – and, more importantly, allows the allied forces to make advances almost entirely unnoticed in Donbass.

While the hohols were busy with their little bloody adventure over in the northeast, they managed to weaken their own defensive lines in Donbass, to the point where the “musicians” of the Wagner Orchestra and the Chechen Stormboyz are now making serious progress in Artyomovsk (Bakhmut), where the Allies had previously been quite stalled for weeks.

Conclusion – Rising Temperatures and Sticky Triggers

If there is one lesson to be learned from the whole weird puzzle that emerged over the past few days, it is that we must not be too quick to judge Russian successes or failures at face value. As I have been arguing since the beginning of this war, the Russians are clearly students of the art of war, and they understand manoeuvre warfare better than just about anyone that I have ever seen. Unlike almost anyone else, including Americans, they understand what blitzkrieg is – and how to blunt it. They understand how to stop an advance dead in its tracks, and how to suck one into an operational cauldron and then destroy it piecemeal.

The Russian “withdrawal” was in fact a resetting of the board. The closet parallel that we can find in relatively recent military history for the Ukrainian counteroffensive is probably the Battle of the Bulge – and members of my Telegram channel will recall that I said as much, while making apologies if I got the comparison wrong, days ago, well before the other talking heads mentioned it.

Most of the experts looking at this situation now acknowledge that the Russians have lost very little in military terms, beyond territory – and that territory was actually of very little use to them. Their army is still quite intact and quite lethal. And, while they have assuredly suffered a significant moral and psychological blow, they are still far and away the masters of the battlefield, with capabilities that the Ukrainians cannot match. They are also bleeding the Ukrainians dry at every step – the hohols cannot sustain this level of operations, and they appear to have thrown the last of their reserve forces into this particular offensive.

It is looking more and more like the last-ditch offensives that the Nazis threw back in late 1944 to disrupt the Allied advance from the west, even as they tried desperately to stop the Soviet steamroller moving in from the east. Big gains at first, lots of morale-boosting victories, but once the weather cleared and supply lines dried up, the offensive stalled and TENS OF THOUSANDS of the best of Germany’s remaining soldiers died.

In the end, the Ukrainians gained back – most likely temporarily – perhaps 3,000 square kilometres of land. But they lost more than 3,000 men to do it. And they almost certainly ensured the final destruction of the last of their army to do it.

There is, however, one point to note which is genuinely very worrying. It is the rumour – increasingly being confirmed as fact – that roughly one in three of the Ukrainian personnel pitching up in Kharkov were wearing NATO flags. This, combined with the fact that the hohols were using NATO-supplied weapons, intelligence, tactics, reconnaissance, and other assets, gives us the clearest indication yet that NATO is getting desperate for a win, and now has effectively joined the war.

This is an extremely dangerous situation. It will not take much longer before NATO will face a shit-or-get-off-the-pot moment – to commit to an actual full-on military confrontation with the Russians in the open, or to back down and admit that Ukraine has lost and it is time to negotiate.

The one thing that has become clear over the past 6 months is that NATO has no reverse gear. The neoclowns running the show have no ability to admit mistakes or change course. Which means that we are looking at the increasingly likely possibility of a de jure World War III, rather than a merely de facto one that we have right now.

May God have mercy on us all if that is the case.

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