Ukraine Replace: What was 5 Russian axes of assault is down to at least one: the Donbas

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Zaporizhzhia oblast. Hopefully I can go to a peaceable Ukraine subsequent summer time.

Blissful Thanksgiving, all! At present can be the nine-month anniversary of Russia’s unlawful invasion. Largely going to do some bullet-point updates immediately. I’m cranking this out as shortly as I can, and am skipping self-editing. Everybody else is out immediately. So please forgive the uncooked prose and no matter grammar, spelling, and readability errors would possibly exist. 


Awkward. 

These are Vladimir Putin’s “allies” within the Collective Safety Treaty Group, Russia’s laughable response to NATO. Armenia is on its method out, pissed that not one of the different nations within the group (together with Russia) got here to its assist as neighboring Azerbaijan invaded and occupied massive swaths of its territory a few months in the past. 

Two different member states—Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—have been border-skirmishing the final two months. And Kazakhstan has cozied as much as Beijing, with China warning Russia to cease attempting and meddle in Kazakh affairs. 

That latter improvement has, predictably, pissed off Russian nationalists. 

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Oh boy did the Kazakh authorities not take this nicely, main Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to counsel individuals “to not pay attention and to not watch” Russian state propaganda. Extra awkwardness.  


That is … unbelievable: 

It’s a war-vehicle graveyard close to Belgorod, Russia, close to Ukraine’s northern border, with a whole bunch of broken and destroyed tanks and armored infantry automobiles. Oryx, who maintains the database of visually confirmed gear kills, is clearly flummoxed on coping with this. 

Ukraine at present claims it has destroyed 2,898 tanks and 5,839 armored automobiles. The Oryx database counts 1,505 Russian destroyed, captured, and broken tanks, and three,357 different armored automobiles. Whereas the gear graveyard above doesn’t shut the hole, it actually shrinks it and means that Ukraine’s numbers aren’t as loopy as some would possibly suppose. 


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Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban claims he doesn’t oppose Swedish and Finnish NATO membership, and “subsequent 12 months” is barely a month away. That’s all tutorial regardless, as a result of the actual roadblock is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That one could also be on maintain till Turkey’s subsequent presidential elections subsequent June. 

Certainly, Turkey’s huge beef is Scandinavian help for the Kurdish plight in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran (one more place the place arbitrarily drawn colonial borders proceed to separate individuals and create intractable instability). That is additionally a degree of battle with america—two days in the past, Turkey bombed a base in northern Syria utilized by Kurds, Syrian allies, and … our personal forces (although none had been current on the time of the assault). To say the state of affairs is delicate is placing it mildly, and it’s laborious to see Erdogan being placated any time quickly. 


Very North Korea-like. And … what’s Hungary’s excuse? 


Right here we go once more. 

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Ukraine liberates total oblasts and the one regional capital Russia ever managed to seize, and Russia brags about capturing a rubbish dump, actually. Mark Sumner has joked prior to now (quoting commenters, I consider) how the battle of Bakhmut reads like a battle for a mall, “Preventing as soon as once more on the T.J. Max!” 


Russia is a terrorist state. 

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Barbarians. There’s zero army worth in these assaults on residential neighborhoods. Russia is making an attempt to terrorize Ukrainian civilians into submission. 


Oh that is good knowledge viz: 

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This was as soon as a five-front struggle—Kyiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Donbas, and Kherson. All that is still immediately is Donbas—northern Luhansk (Svatove), and Donetsk (Bakhmut, Donetsk Metropolis environs, and Pavlivka/Vulhedar).

Ukraine has systematically pushed Russia into that single entrance, the place it stays incapable of mounting any critical strategically-relevant offensive operations. On the draw back, Russia can now focus all of its forces, together with artillery, right into a a lot smaller entrance line. Positive, Ukraine can accomplish that as nicely, nevertheless it implies that this meat-grinder of a entrance is turning into much more lethal for each side. 

Ukraine will wish to keep away from a repeat of the April-June Battle of the Donbas attritional struggle. Russia has a near-endless provide of mobilized cannon fodder for suicide assaults on Ukrainian trenches. It’s equally tough to advance on that mass of Russian our bodies in strengthened defensive positions. The important thing shall be to proceed degrading Russia’s command and management and logistics. Which means Svatove and Starobilsk are must-takes, as these would knock the Belgorod hub out of the struggle, forcing Russia to route provide traces to Ukraine’s japanese border, in addition to Melitopol, which might collapse the Russian presence in southeast Ukraine, reduce any remaining provide traces from Crimea, reduce its water, and go away it open to Ukrainian liberation. 

At that time, we’d be largely again to the February borders within the Donbas, with Russia severely depleted. It’s no accident that struggle movies immediately are largely uncovered Russian infantry getting shredded by drones and artillery, with little or no Russian armor in sight. They’ve obtained nothing left however lives to throw into the grinder. 

Which means we will anticipate many extra months of mass loss of life round Bakhmut and Svatove and different settlements round these “sizzling” areas on the map above, as Ukraine merely holds its floor whereas plotting strategic advances towards Melitopol/Crimea within the south, and Svatove/Starobilsk within the northeast. Sucks for these poor Ukrainian caught in these trenches. What a nightmare.

My guess? And this can be a guess, not a options or demand—As soon as Ukraine has pushed Russia again to the unique February Donbas borders, with Russia’s southern Crimea positions underneath actual Ukrainian menace, the chances of negotiations turns into actual.