Ukraine War Day #332: Going Nuts On The Battlefront

Dear Readers:

Today (well, actually, yesterday) some important news from the battlefront. Looks like the Russian army have started their long-anticipated big offensive. (I could be wrong, but this looks to be the real deal.) People have been laying bets where the offensive would begin, and it looks like the winner is Zaporozhie. A lot of military analysts have been saying this is the best way to split Ukraine and the Ukrainian/NATO army into two pieces: by slicing up from the South.

Looking at the map, recall that the Russians control Melitopol and a chunk of the Zaporozhie Oblast, but the Ukrainians control Zaporozhie City itself, which sits astride the Dniepr River. The goal is to take all of Zaporozhie, thus cutting off supplies of Western equipment flowing in from Poland. Most military analysts that I have been listening to, say this is a better strategy than cutting down from the North (Kiev) or Northwest (Lvov).

Recall that Vladimir Rogov is a political leader and military expert working out of Melitopol. In an interview with TASS, he described the new offensive operation of the Russian forces:

Rogov: Russian forces broke through the Ukrainian defensive line and are crushing Ukrainian troops in the towns of Orekhov [yalensis: I circled on the map above, the Ukrainian spelling is Orikhiv], Gulyai-Pole, and Kamenskoe.

Etymological sidebar: The Russian word Orekhov literally means a nut. As in a walnut, say. This can be traced back to the Eastern Slavic word орѣхъ (orěxŭ), from Proto-Slavic *o(b)rěxъ, from Proto-Balto-Slavic *rēks‑, from Proto-Indo-European *areyis-

In Indo-European this word seems to have meant specifically a “walnut”, see Ancient Greek ἄρυα (árua, “walnut”), Latvian riẽksts, Lithuanian riеšаs. although now it can mean any type of nut. And interesting, it does not appear to be related to the English word “nut” which comes from a completely different root, see Proto-Germanic *hnut (source also of Old Norse hnot, Dutch noot, Old High German hnuz, German Nuss “nut”), from PIE *kneu “nut” (source also of Latin nux; as in the word nucleus, in its sense of “kernel”).

Anyhow, this nutty town of Orekhov is the key to capturing Zaporozhie. Back to Rogov: Our artillery and tanks are demolishing all the Nazi positions. The first key victory [on Friday January 20] was to capture the village of Lobkovoe, which stands on the heights and is 9 kilometers away from Kamenskoe. By doing this, we cut off the roads between Kamenskoe and Orekhov, which Ukrainiains were using to transport men and supplies. We thus achieved operational control over all 4 populated suburbs of Orekhov. The Kiev regime sees that we are getting closer to Zaporozhie, and they are starting to panic. We have reports of panic in the office of the so-called “Governor” of Zaporozhie.

Rogov believes that the Ukrainian have inadequate supplies of artillery and drones in this area. Other military analysts have posited that the Ukrainians focused too much of their forces around Bakhmut, which led to the weakening of their defensive line in the Zaporozhie region. Russian forces were able, opportunistically, to take advantage of this and break through the lines in Lobkovoe.

Walk-About Field

Speaking of interesting toponyms, another town in the area which Russia must take (in order to succeed) is Gulyai-Pole, whose name literally means “Walk-About Field”. This town has a very interesting history. The name itself comes from its history of holding open-air fairs and markets, to which people from other regions would come to purchase animals and other goods.

After the Russian Empire captured this area from the Crimean Khanate (Tatars), Empress Catherine the Great populated it with farmers, other free settlers and Cossacks. The job of the latter was to guard this Western flank of the Russian Empire. Many of the regular people living there were freemen at first. Later, as the laws of serfdom became harsher under Catherine’s rule, she dissolved the Cossack Sich and enslaved many people back into serfdom.

During the Russian Civil War, Gulyai-Pole changed hands no fewer than 16 times (Austro-Hungarian Empire, Red Army, Ukrainian Peoples Republic, Hetmanate, Denikin’s White Army, Makhno insurgency, and many, many others.) To this day, the city, by its very history and its very name, is reminiscent of the Makhnovshchina and the notion of “freedom” as anarchy.

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10 Responses to Ukraine War Day #332: Going Nuts On The Battlefront

  1. Daniel Rich says:

    @ yalemsis,


    What are we without a history and/or past?


  2. The easternmost Indo European language is Bengali, and in Bengali a walnut is an akhrot.


    • yalensis says:

      That’s interesting. I just googled the Sanskrit word for walnut, and it’s Akshotam. Obviously, the Sanskrit and Bengali words are exactly the same word as Russian “Orekh”, just applying the usual phonological changes over time in the various branches of the language family.


  3. Liborio Guaso says:

    Remember that according to the political bitch Angela Merkel the Western conspiracy was to seize all of Russia using Ukrainian Nazi terrorism as military aid, but they are doing poorly.
    But already in Sweden they are authorizing the burning of the Koran publicly and soon they will continue to burn Muslims.
    You think not, the porn president is about to burn the Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and there are two of them and nobody says anything.
    Apparently we are in the prelude to a new holy war.


  4. Ben says:

    “Rogov believes that the Ukrainian have inadequate supplies of artillery and drones in this area. Other military analysts have posited that the Ukrainians focused too much of their forces around Bakhmut, which led to the weakening of their defensive line in the Zaporozhie region.”

    Ukraine has almost 30 brigades around Balhmut, which is around 100,000 soldiers, about half the entire amount of even vaguely combat effective troops the Ukrainian army has left. Aside from the fact that those forces are being systematically annihilated at a rate of around a thousand dead and wounded a day, even if they weren’t being completely operated, they’re still pinned in place and unable to fight elsewhere.

    As for artillery and drones, Ukraine is critically short of those everywhere, not just around Zaporozhie. They simply don’t have much left.


    • yalensis says:

      Good points. Although it’s hard to estimate the actual number of soldiers in a given brigade now. Some analysts believe the Ukrainians keep on referring to a unit as a “brigade” even when it’s down to a single battalion. Hence, the number of 100,000 might be inflated.

      On the other side of the coin, Rybar is reporting that the Ukrainian units are very resourceful and effective, when it comes to “horizontal reporting” across depleted units. Some depleted units don’t even bother with the chain of command any more, they will just communicate directly with a neighboring unit and ask for a drone, say. Rybar believes this “local initiative” technique is very effective and he believes that the Russians could learn something from their enemies. I can’t comment, one way or the other. I imagine there is something to be said for doing things by the book; and something also to be said for innovating.


      • Ben says:

        There may indeed be some clever improvisation going on, in an ‘oh, that’s interesting’ way. But it isn’t going to remotely make up for the crushing superiority of their enemy.


        • yalensis says:

          I know. It almost isn’t even a fair fight. From the Ukrainian side, they never had a snowball’s chance. When I am talking to some people, I use the analogy: It’s like the Yankees decided to play a game against your kid’s Little League team. Could the kids possibly win? Well, if it was a Hollywood movie, maybe. Or if the Yankees deliberately threw the game just to be nice. Otherwise, no….


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