UKRAINE WAR: Russia's Position Is Crumbling

AP Photo/Inna Varenytsia

Russia’s Ukraine War went from bad to worse over the weekend, as Kyiv’s liberation of Lyman left Russian positions crumbling.

There’s a lot going on, all of it fast-moving. So I’ll avoid the ever-changing details as much as I can, and focus instead for you on the big picture.


Before Saturday, Ukraine’s “August offensive” to recapture Kherson in the south had been a big dud. The Ukraine Army (UA) reportedly took big losses for minimal gains, as Moscow repositioned many of its best forces — or whatever remains of them — to the vital region.

Russian troops had been digging in at Kherson for weeks, and it showed.

But things broke loose on Sunday as UA forces made rapid gains along the right bank of the Dnipro River. Smaller gains further west in Kherson threaten to trap a reported 2,000-4,500 Russian troops.

Or maybe they’ll escape as Russian troops did from Lyman last week.

How bad is the situation, really? Retreating Russian forces in Kherson took to social media — in this case, the Telegram app popular with Russian milbloggers — to beg for airstrikes.

There are more details on the Kherson front here from milblogger Barracuda, if you’d like them.

Exclusively for our VIPs: Ukraine on the Verge of Another Massive Battlefield Victory


Up north, the UA barely hesitated after liberating Lyman to push into the Luhansk region — officially (and illegally) annexed last week by Putin.

That’s from Neil Hauer, an on-the-ground war reporter with a lot of experience. He adds:

Others have noted this, but it bears repeating: these offensives don’t enjoy the surprise that the Kharkiv one last month did. Here, the Russians know what is coming, and the Ukrainian army is solidly defeating them day after day. Hard to see how the bleeding stops.

When asked to explain Russia’s apparent collapse in northern Donetsk/eastern Luhansk, Hauer tweeted, “They ran out of men – an issue long predicted and now very acutely felt.”

I’m starting to give more credence to Kyiv’s KIA claims against Russian forces. Before September, claims of 30,000-40,000 Russian dead seemed wild. More conservative estimates — like from the Dupuy Institute — were around 9,000-10,000. If Hauer is right, Russian losses must be at least double Dupuy’s estimate.


At this time, Russia is still trying to plug the gaps with freshly mobilized “mobiks.” Theses men are older, less fit, and barely trained. Russia doesn’t have a reserve system like ours, with National Guard and Army Reserve units staffed with people who work and drill together somewhat regularly. All they have is a list of men who put in a year or two as draftees sometime in the last 30 years — and local “recruiters” don’t always stick to the list.

These mobiks are getting sent to the front against UA troops who are now combat veterans.

Ukraine War

(Map courtesy of Ukraine Battle Map.)

About the only place the UA isn’t advancing right now is near Bakhmut, in the center. That could change quickly, though. Russia continues with futile attacks in the direction, squandering their manpower. Bakhmut has held out against Russian attacks for weeks, and continuing to attack when there are genuine crises elsewhere seems like madness.

The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Putin, apparently frustrated with his generals, has “thrust himself more directly into strategic planning for the war in Ukraine in recent weeks.” Former spies turned thug politicians generally don’t make the best battlefield commanders.


Honestly though, given Russia’s recent drubbings, it might not matter much who is giving the orders.

You go to war with the army you have,” Donald Rumsfeld said almost 20 years ago. The army Putin ordered to war in February was not prepared for a long campaign. The time to mobilize was before starting the Ukraine War — an unpopular political risk Putin was unwilling to take.

But he was willing to risk a war.

Short of full mobilization, then spending the winter resting up and training up for a fresh campaign in the Spring, I’m not sure what options Putin has — short of nuclear weapons — if he wants to end this stupid war he started.


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