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.
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.
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.