Ukraine War Day #201: New Defense Line + No More Mister Nice Guy

Dear Readers:

For those who think I am dropping the lede here, you can skip down to Part II and read how Mr. Mild-Mannered Softie Putin suddenly bulged out of his shirt, turned green, and became the Incredible Hulk, raging across the land. But if you have more patience, I would appreciate if you continue to read from the top down; because I am trying to make some serious points here! About the nature of victory, defeat, looking at the long view; and, above all, patience.

Can We Do A Do-Over?

One of my commenters asked the pessimistic question (I am paraphrasing): By losing Kharkov Oblast, did Russia lose everything it accomplished in the last 6 months, and will it have to start over again? Well, in my view those are two separate questions, and the answers, respectively, are No and Yes.

It’s an endless loop.
Intelligent iteration leads to Perfection.

I mean, I have no military experience myself, but I do know a lot about I.T. projects. (Plus I spent a night at a Holiday Inn Express, after which my brain got so big it started oozing out of my ears.)

Plus, I have worked in big project teams doing huge implementations that took, say, a span of 3 years to complete. And every single time, within weeks after the go-live we realized that the implementation was flawed (because there were, like, a thousand little things that our dumb project managers didn’t take into account), and so we needed to do a partial re-implementation. Fortunately, the second time around didn’t take nearly as long!

So, Yes, Russia sort of needs to start over again, in my opinion. But doesn’t need to start from scratch; and this time around things can go a lot quicker. With lessons learned.

On the Oskol Line

Having made that important point, I have this piece by war correspondent Alexander Kots, who is embedded with the Russian/Allied troops on the Oskol River, which is the new Russian defensive line in the North. Here is his report:

Anatoly, a Major in the Medical Services, told me: “I took down from the wall of my field hospital the flag of Russia and the Banner of Victory, stuffed them under my shirt, and with those flags pressed close to my heart, I fled from the encirclement.”

Field hospital is a bit of an overstatement. A beaten-up wooden hut in Malaya Komyshevakha, which is to the South of Izyum. Stretchers in the middle of the room. IV bags attached by hooks to the frayed ceiling. Here Anatoly was treating our wounded, those who had held their positions while being bombarded round the clock by enemy artillery. Positions which, in the last few hours, they were forced to abandon.

Last week the enemy launched attacks in the Kharkov Oblast, punching through in the region around Balakleya. Different from their unsuccessful offensive in the Kherson Oblast, here Kiev was able to throw fresh Ukrainian units, just recently trained by NATO instructors, as well as foreign mercenaries. They use the tactic called “Flying Squads“. This tactic permitted the enemy to skip the process of engaging in combat at defense hubs in towns and cities, simply bypassing them, and going straight to cut off the roads. Leaving the populated areas to the next wave, which included both infantry and heavy equipment.

Life isn’t always “From Victory To Victory”

The attack took place in several directions at once. The enemy was successful in capturing Balakleya initially, and then was able to cut off our grouping in Izyum, from its supply route. And simultaneously, not worrying at all about casualties, throwing ever newer and newer reserves into the fight, made a beeline for Kupiansk. Our entire Izyum grouping, which during the past months has been waging battles to the North of Slavyansk, was under threat of encirclement. And this, in itself, was one of the major goals of the Ukrainian attack.

To leave our grouping in Izyum, under such difficult circumstances, would have been suicidal. The Russian Command made the single correct decision: To withdraw our units from these positions. The withdrawal itself was conducted in an orderly fashion, with reinforcements arriving by land and air, to help cover the rear. As a result the enemy was not able to crush our Izyum grouping.

Currently our line of defense stands on the Left Bank of the Oskol River. This river actually runs right through Kupiansk, splitting it down the middle. The Ukrainians are on the Western side, we are here, on the Eastern side. The enemy is attempting to continue his offensive even further, by crossing the Oskol River. However, these attempts are thwarted by Russian artillery and aviation.

South of the Oskol Reservoir the Ukrainian troops are pressing on Krasny Liman and Yampol, their goal is to establish a new line of defense and strike back into Luhansk territory. To date our troops have been able to hold the line, inflicting huge casualties on the foe. [end of Kots review]

No More Mister Nice Guy

So…. Now we get to the more war-porn stuff that has been thrilling the Russophile internet all night long. Namely, bombing the Kiev regime back to the Stone Age. Well, Russians call it “bombing back to the 19th century”, but that would be fair only if people still had horses and buggies, knew how to spin and weave, and make candles, that sort of thing.

Among other things, Poland can forget about getting the electricity that Zelensky promised them. Zelensky himself don’t even have electricity any more. In the course of under 3 hours Russian cruise missiles (zooming up from the Black Sea) knocked out Ukrainian power stations, trains, subways, pumping stations, the works. Ukrainian anti-air defenses were helpless to intercept the Russian missiles. Half of Ukraine has reverted instantaneously to the 19th century. Russia did unto Ukraine as NATO has done unto places like Iraq and Libya; and as Ukraine itself did unto people in the Donbass and Crimea. Yes, this actually happened. Whether one cheers this on, or has ethical qualms, we can leave that discussion for the comment section.

I won’t bother telling the story myself, I’ll just leave it to Intrepid DPA Wyatt (aka Giga-Chad), who was up until 4:00 AM Singapore time (poor little guy, didn’t get any sleep!) dishing out this latest news. Here is what our beloved Chinese-Malaysian pidgin-English speaking map analyst posted last night. NOTE to watchers: There is a delay, Wyatt doesn’t actually get started until 1:30 minutes in, so either fast-forward the vid or be patient.

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20 Responses to Ukraine War Day #201: New Defense Line + No More Mister Nice Guy

  1. Liborio says:

    The Ucronazi Western pupils simply did not respect the civilian facilities or the “enemy” population and the Russians gave them a little bit of their medicine.
    Now in the West they will begin to ask for respect for these things.


  2. BM says:

    Well, Mr Kots gives his view, I’m sure in all sincerety, but he is unwittingly spreading misinformation. See the two video links I posted on yesterday’s page, especially Martyanov*. The Russian withdrawal was planned before the Kharkov offensive even started, and even US intelligence people knew about it then. Of course, just because it had been decided by General Staff and was already being implemented doesn’t mean low level officers knew about it, although it does seem a little strange if the officers Kots was in contact with didn’t know about the withdrawal and the reserves being flown in to cover for the withdrawal because it was highly organised – but maybe that reflects in part the time lag due to that organising.

    What is clear is that this is a Class A failure in information dissemination (compared to a Class B failure at the beginning of the SMO). Civilians were given all necessary support to evacuate, and only the vehement Russian-haters were left behind.

    Furthermore it is clear that the Ukrainians were able to advance so fast (with astronomical casualty rates, I think I saw figures of 90% alleged for the first wave) in part because the Russians were withdrawing already so they were rushing into a nearly empty space, and in part because – that was the Russian plan – to suck them into a huge cauldron. Apparently it is already clear that the Ukrainian casualties are massive compared even to Kherson, and it isn’t over yet. They are all out in the open, being decimated.

    * Not that I am saying Martyanov is right and everybody else is wrong – even he himself often states that sometimes he is wrong. But he bases his assessment on a much wider and higher quality range of sources, and he has training as a Russian officer so he knows how to analyse and interpret the data. Therefore whilst he could still be completely wrong in this case, the chances of him being correct are far higher than someone embedded with a single low-level unit and lacking other sources. Most important is knowing how to understand the numbers.


    • yalensis says:

      I hope the civilians are okay. But if they were told in advance they were supposed to evacuate, then how were the Russians able to keep their planned withdrawal secret from the Ukrainians? Surely there would be some blabber-mouths. And people would have to be given a window of warning, not like, “You have to leave in the next 10 minutes!” Or maybe it was that quick, I don’t know.

      Also, if only pro-Ukrainians were left behind, then they don’t have anything to worry about. Although some bloggers are saying that torture videos from Balakleya (SBU torturing “collaborators”) got out onto the internet within hours of the taking of said city. They were posted to Telegram, and Telegram mods quickly took them down, worried that children would see them.
      Maybe those torture vids were fakes, I certainly hope so!


      • BM says:

        how were the Russians able to keep their planned withdrawal secret from the Ukrainians?

        That is the point – it wasn’t a secret. It was known, even by the US. It did not need to be a secret. But the Ukrainians needed a good PR win, and by rushing into empty space they got it. Now they pay dearly for it.


  3. stephentjohnson says:

    No more Mr. Nice Guy? Well, we’ll know pretty soon. Either we’ll see systemic attacks on Ukrainian power, logistics, etc. – or not. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess.
    Wrangling about whether the pullback is the product of 11 dimensional chess or an epic screwup is unlikely to go anywhere productive – it is highly likely, whichever is true, that this will be an opportunity to more easily smash up some more Ukrainian kit and the unfortunates associated with it.
    It is, for sure, going to suck big time for some of the inhabitants of that region, especially those too fragile / poor / sick to evacuate, and/or who just have the misfortune to be picked for some malign fate by the UAF.
    My two cents worth, your mileage may vary, side effects may include rashes, coughs and thermonuclear war. Do not attempt this at home.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Stephen, that is very sound advice. People could get wrapped up forever in a fruitless debate whether this was a planned evacuation or a monumental screw-up. My own hunch is that it was something in between. But my hunches mean nothing, since I don’t have the facts.
      Instead of worrying about this, we should just keep our heads up, accept that “it is what it is”, and then carry on. Always giving constructive advice, and always with stiff upper lip, it goes without saying!


  4. BM says:

    By the way, who is the “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I am angry” guy? Is he an I.T. guy by any chance? Just curious.


    • wqjcv says:

      Mild-mannered Dr. Banner. Played by Bill Bixby

      Liked by 1 person

      • the pair says:

        funny(ish) story: he’s named “david banner” in the show because the execs thought “bruce” was too “gay” of a name. maybe that’s where all the batman/robin rumors came from.

        Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, scholars! Doctor David Banner is a scientist and medical researcher, NOT an IT specialist. If he was IT, then his Hulk alter-ego would be much less disciplined when on a rampage.
      Full disclosure: I really love the Hulk, and in my opinion, Bill Bixby was the best hulk ever. Don’t even get me started on the CGI hulks, they are appalling.

      Oh yeah pair! I forgot that in the comic book his name is Bruce, not David.
      Never could figure out why Americans think “Bruce” is a gay name. To me it sounds like “Brute” or “Brutus”, super-masculine, just like “Chad”.


  5. the pair says:

    that on-the-ground report goes with what i’ve heard so far; yes, the russians and lugansk guys did fall back, but from what were essentially ghost villages and in an orderly way. this wasn’t hudson in aliens yelling “GAME OVER MAN!” i’ve mentioned elsewhere that this whole thing reminds me of the tet offensive and that was a PR gain for a huge loss of life. or, in IT terms, this was an “0 day” and the russians are patching it.

    ethically: power stations can be rebuilt (and in the case of old as hell soviet ones it might be doing the ukies a backhanded favor) but lives can’t be unlost. they haven’t panicked yet and still have less ukrainian blood on their hands than zelensky and his western handlers. i’ve had a “gut” feeling that the russians will start using their air power even more than they have and that may be tricky when it comes to “collateral damage”. in any case, i’ll leave it to the adults in moscow and their helpful attack bears like kadyrov to figure it out. remember: winter is coming and rule #1 is Don’t Attack Russia in Winter.


    • yalensis says:

      Is Hudson the same guy who keeps screaming: “We’re all gonna die!” every time he sees a pile of goo on the floor of the spaceship.
      Poor Ripley, being stuck with a dickwad coward like that.


  6. The Inimitable NEET says:

    It’s worth remembering that these areas west of the Oskil and Donetsk are essentially steppe plains with small villages sprinkled throughout, which was why that area was so sparsely occupied in the first place. It is terrible as a staging ground and extremely dangerous to hold with any concentration of forces. Any BTG stationed in those areas risk getting enveloped by a fast rush (i.e. what the UAF just pulled off) plus their precise numbers can be picked up by satellite recon. If the Russians had reinforced those areas the same result would occur except they’d suffer large casualties. Note the UAF is not crowing over capturing Tornado-S and TOS 1A systems because there are none in those areas. They are not boasting about large numbers of captives or munitions. It was by and large scattered light mechanized infantry.

    As a PR move it is highly effective. Most people judge the success of a move by whether it captures territory, something clear and distinct that the average layperson can grasp. It also leaves civilians vulnerable to the wrath of occupying forces. The pro-Russian cohort are screeching and losing their minds because this signals utter ineptitude…or something. Like this wasn’t always a weak point in holding that area.

    The next problem for the UAF is they have to deal with the aftermath. There’s a wide distinction between capturing territory, consolidating control over territory, and using it as a bridgehead to take more. And this has to be kept in mind when judging the overall approach of both parties. Most land in eastern Ukraine is not worth holding with military forces because it doesn’t contribute towards accomplishing strategic objectives – it is a hindrance. Hence despite how porous the countryside is, fighting has largely been confined to specific small urban areas.

    All the problems the DPR militia faced are now the UAF’s onus to address. As far as I know they have not penetrated operational depth; they have not interrupted the RF’s ability to resupply, communicate, and project long-range force. They would have to cross the Donetsk and Oskil and secure bridgeheads. Their artillery will be exposed to reprisals as it must cross exposed flat land. Ditto for their supply lines. Their leading forces will gradually get thinned out as they have to station troops in every captured settlement and village, lest they want to encourage the RF to perform sabotage operations. These settlements lack the fortifications and trenches that allowed UAF soldiers to hold onto positions for so long. And the attrition rates so far are fairly lopsided according to MoD daily reports. 4000 dead, 8000 injured (as of September 10th) is not unfeasible: the speed demanded for this assault would necessitate a lack of CAS and artillery support for the spearhead. This was the eternal bane of the Nazi’s mechanized forces too and according to some Ukranian journalists, the initial UAF forces at Kupyansk were slaughtered by air strikes.

    In any discussion whether this was planned, a huge blunder, a 4-d chess mastermind gambit, etc., remember it takes time to flesh out all the advantages and disadvantages of a maneuver operation. Creating salients create opportunities for the aggressor and defender alike, especially when the enemy has preserved the vast bulk of their forward lines (which the envelopment tactics are SUPPPOSED to prevent, and that goes back to von Seeckt’s revamping of Germany’s military doctrine post-WW1).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Inimitable NEET says:

    Addendum on yesterday’s post: I don’t think the RF’s miscalculation was just a matter of timing but more of which axis the attack would be launched from.

    Remember that an enormous armored convoy entered the Kharkiv region from the north on the 8th and according to standard requisition doctrine, such large moves are planned out meticulously weeks in advance. It would have been impossible to organize it in response to the first day assault.

    The other aspect I want to draw attention to is the difference between Russian and NATO military doctrine. To make a long story short, it is anathema for Russian military doctrine to drive through and occupy long stretches of empty space. With the 1:1 ratios of infantry to artillery within the BTGs and the disadvantageous geography, they are very weak to the “divide and conquer via a rupture in the frontline” maneuver warfare conceptualized by Nazi military theorycrafters (not a perjorative) and later incorporated into NATO methodology. As mentioned above, they rely on mobile groups of scouts to hold and provide recon in those exposed spots. Much of their technological focus over the last 2 decades prioritizes urban warfare, artillery, avoiding open-field warfare, and deterring air superiority.

    One conjecture is that the General Staff thought the impetus would come from the north-east: the UAF reserves would go north and then redirect to Kharkiv, using that as the launching pad into the Donetsk. It would afford them many of the advantages they relied upon so far while being a headache to capture, plus it avoids the problems of running into the Donetsk and Oskil rivers as a momentum barrier. Running through the barely populated regions directly to the east would be successful in the short-term, but extremely suspect from an operational and strategic viewpoint. I already listed all the long-term reasons why you would generally NOT want to take that risk (and why Russia avoided it with incredibly low troop investment).


    • The Inimitable NEET says:

      Especially when talking about the Oskil river, it’s shallow in the northeast compared to the east, where it can reach as much as a kilometer in width. It would be very hard for UAF forces to hold positions on the opposite shore and create a concrete bridge without being shelled to kingdom come. By contrast, it would be much easier to create beachheads if they rapidly rush through Kharkiv and establish crossings in the upper inlet. That might be what the Kharkiv force was preparing to deny with the timing of its entrance.


      • yalensis says:

        Thanks, NEET. I read that the Oksil River is quite shallow right now, tanks could just drive right across without having to build a pontoon bridge. Sort of like Moses parting the Red Sea.


        • The Inimitable NEET says:

          And I think that’s what the Russian higher-ups were afraid of. The wider sections east can be defended for now for multiple reasons: artillery has to be brought up to the front lines, the tanks will get separated from infantry support if they make an attempt, and refueling would be nigh-impossible without secure highways. All of that would be assuaged with a shunt north. Apparently the upper Oskil right now is so shallow even the motorized infantry squads could cross it without too much trouble.


  8. Beluga says:

    The inimitable NEET has provided better analysis in these three posts than anything I read elsewhere today, the totality of which, by comparison, amounts to nothing more than the flapping of idle tongues. Thank you for posting your insights, sir.

    On the other aspect of interest at the moment, hitting power transformers at generating stations is a good way to disrupt life. I was amazed at how rapidly the Ukrainians seem to have put a lot of the lights back on so quickly. However, apparently there were further hits on the repairs this afternoon to further tax their ingenuity.

    As a complete non-military strategist of no pedigree whatsoever but able to understand basic hand signals, seeing what happens when a payroll system goes down or is completely wonky (like the several billion dollar Phoenix fiasco IBM so incompetently provided and screwed up for years and years for the Canadian government) I say — why not take down the central government IT system in Kiev? There must be a government complex in Supply or Treasury that sends out payments, salaries, pensions to the citizenry/military/suppliers by paper and/or electronically. Put a Kalibr or three through that complex one dark night when simple servants are at home snoring. When folks don’t get paid on time because the system is in physical ruins, you have a big problem to look after and the lynching mob is soon out with pitchforks demanding their money. Could all be later memorialized in a Hollywood movie, Revenge of the Nerds, an IT thriller unlike any other movie you’ve ever seen starring Johnny Depp in one of his brilliant disguises as a mild-mannered project leader with gonads of steel.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Beluga. I agree that NEET has provided some very good military commentary and analysis, and I appreciate that quite a lot.
      As to Ukrainians being able to quickly fix power outages: I imagine that it’s like here where I live, when a storm blows down a tree and all the lights go off, if the linemen are quick they can maybe fix it in a few hours. Depends on the extent of the damage. I also read that, in some cases, where the power centers were very seriously damaged, the Ukrainians were able to just switch over certain systems to a different grid. I can’t claim to know anything about the Ukrainian electricity grid, but if it was built in Soviet times, then it would be fairly sturdy and have many layers of backup system; also ability to quickly re-balance to other systems.
      Also, the Russian attacks were sort of like a “warning shot”, from what I understand, and not necessarily designed to put them back to Stone Age. Which is also the reason why they have not attacked main Kiev systems yet, like the ones you mention.


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