UKRAINE WAR: Kremlin Advisor Goes Public With Opposition to Putin, but Ukraine Risks All in the East

AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak

What a day for Ukraine War news, with one small crack showing in Moscow while Ukraine risks everything by hanging on too long in the east.

Only hours ago it looked like Putin was the guy looking for an exit. But with the reports out of Maripul in Ukraine’s east, bad Ukrainian decision-making could turn things back around in a hurry.


And to think, just a week ago most everyone expected this thing to be over by the weekend.

War news is like that. Always has been. Still, you never get quite used to the whiplash.

Onward then.

First, let’s go to Moscow where a “top advisor” says he “cannot comprehend” Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and that “many of us are depressed.”

Andrey Kortunov spoke to Sky News on Tuesday, telling the news outlet that “I thought that a military operation was not feasible. It was not plausible.”

“My advice today,” he said, “given the current situation on the ground, would be to turn a ceasefire into the top priority.”

The Daily Mail reported that Putin has “narrowed his group advisers” to a “small number” of “generals, friends and spies.”

Longtime Kremlin hands like Kortunov have been effectively shut out of lending even a small voice to how Russia is ruled.

No wonder he went to Sky News — nobody at home is listening.

While Ukraine’s two biggest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, continue to hold out against severe artillery and rocket barrages, the situation in Ukraine’s east isn’t as hopeful.

The port city of Maripul is effectively surrounded, with large numbers of Ukrainian fighters left behind there.

Part of fighting a war, even a war where stalemate is your least-bad option, means knowing when to pull back and regroup.


If — when? — Maripul falls, that risks creating an even bigger pocket of trapped Ukrainian fighters in the country’s east.

There are a lot of ethnic Russians there; in some places, they are the majority of residents.

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Bill Roggio, the editor of the Long War Journal, reports for Daily Mail that “in eastern Ukraine, which Putin declared independent last week, Russian forces are tying down Ukrainian troops that are needed elsewhere.”

Cracks in the Kremlin like the tiny one seen today will grow if Ukraine can string out the fight for as long as possible. That crack won’t matter at all if Putin takes back the upper hand.

If Ukraine doesn’t wise up, they could very easily throw away their early moral victories — and an untold number of fighters — to a double envelopment. First at Maripul, then in the entire east.

Roggio goes on:

What matters more than a handful of setbacks is that Russian forces have pushed 70 miles into contested terrain in less than a week and are on the outskirts of the capital.

This is not a sign of a disorganized, poorly assembled, and failed offensive.

On that one, I’m going to have to disagree in part. The offensive was hastily ordered out of sheer necessity when Putin’s coups de main strike on Kyiv failed. It’s clear from the confusion and logistical issues on the Russian side that those troops were expected to roll into a country already morally defeated.


Plus, 70 miles is nearing the end of Russia’s logistical tether. If that infamous 40-mile-long Russian convoy is meant to surround and cut off Kyiv, it’s going to be awfully exposed to partisans.

But none of the Russian Army’s problems are going to matter if Ukraine doesn’t show a little less bravado and a little more military sense.

Hold fast to Kyiv, but at some point, the moral victories have to give way to operational necessity.

That means ordering everyone out of the developing pocket in the east and putting a premium on defending the country’s western half.

Might that mean a de facto partition of the country?

Almost certainly. But that’s a damn sight better than losing the whole thing, which is exactly what Ukraine risks by trying to defend everything against a much larger and stronger opponent.


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