Posted by Curt on 13 September, 2022 at 8:23 am. 1 comment.


by Andrei

Introduction: the proverbial “fog of war” vs the Internet
Listening to all the innumerable opinion and news (the latter mostly fake) about what happened in the past days in the Ukraine I am getting the feeling that I am observing to quasi non-connected worlds.  The first world is the purely military world and in that world a rather minor incident happened. In this world, it is even possible that the Russian executed a crafty feint (Kiev op revisited).   In the second world, let’s call it the “information space” Russia has suffered a crushing defeat and the entire SMO is about to collapse.  These two world are so far apart that it is hard to compare them.  So the first thing which I will try to today is to use common sense to try to tackle this issue.
So the first Big Question is: did the Russian General Staff conduct a brilliant feint to force the Nazi forces out from their dug in positions or did the General Staff totally fail to see the signs of an imminent Ukronazi attack, then screw up in a hasty retreat which left plenty of pro-Russian civilians in the hands of Nazi death squads?
How do we answer that?  Well, one approach is that we have a massive screaming contest in the comments section and the social media, where some scream A! A! A! while other scream non-A! non-A! non-A! That is not very helpful.  Why?  Two key reasons:

  1. Nobody (that I know of) has access to the Russian General Staff (RGS) plans and intel and
  2. There are almost no verifiable facts on the ground (yet!) to base an opinion on

So this entire “he said, she said” might feel good, but it is useless.
So, what would solve the two problems listed above?  Simple:

  1. Access
  2. Consequences

So, the “access” thing won’t change, even most Russian military commanders do not know the real plans of the RGS. We will never know the full truth, at least not from the Russian officials.
But consequences is the key here: from a purely military point of view, what happened is a minor incident, but if this was a huge mistake of the RGS soon we will see major military consequences, including a successful development of the Ukrainian offensive on the operational and (possibly) strategic levels.
Again, whether this was a brilliant RGS plan or an abject failure by the same RGS will probably never by clarified by the RGS itself for all sorts of reasons, both military and political.
So right now, we need to simply wait and, with time, we will find out.
That being said, we can use our heads a little bit while we wait and ask ourselves an interesting question: would there be signs which could help us, at least indirectly, guess whether this was a feint or a disaster.  In fact, there are plenty, but I will suggest only three:

  1. Did the Russians fail to detect the Ukrainian force concentrations?
  2. Did the Russian organize an orderly retreat (including the evacuation of pro-Russian civilians) or was it a chaotic run for safety?
  3. Did the Russians bring in reinforcements in and orderly and planned manner or did they rush their forces towards the general Kupiansk area with clear signs of problems (road jams for example)?

I will try to suggest some answers to those three questions next.

  1. The entire Russian Internet was buzzing with rumors of a Nazi attack even while the latter were attacking in the direction of Kherson.  To assume that the RGS missed these signals would be to assume that the RGS is less informed that most social media users.  Some will say that this is possible.  I have to disagree.
  2. The retreat.  Now that is an interesting issue which we will discuss in more details below, but  I think that it would be fair to say that the Russian military forces suffered very few losses during this retreat.
  3. The reinforcements.  Here, rather than to repeat it all, I will yield to Larry Johnson’s superb analysis entitled “Understanding Planning, Orders and Troop Movements in Ukraine“.
[Sidebar: I discovered Larry Johnson’s website Son of the New American Revolution rather recently through my friend Andrei Martyanov’s blog and I have to say it is superb.  I highly recommend it to all my readers!  Also, check his latest analysis posted yesterday]

Of course, all of the above looks at things on the theoretical “purely military world” I mentioned above.  However, to pretend that something huge did not happen in our theoretical “information space world” would be simply silly because in that world a huge INFORMATIONAL EXPLOSION happened, that is undeniable, even if we don’t like it.  So let’s look at it even if we don’t like what we see.
Modern PSYOPs are more powerful than ever
Here, before I continue, I am going to post a document mentioned by Andrei Maryanov in his latest video, the

This is a very interesting, if somewhat complex, read, and I do recommend you read the full thing.  If you cannot, at least read the abstract.  This will give me a good idea of the magnitude of the current information operations against Russia by the united West.  Without an awareness of how huge this strategic PSYOP is you will never understand the true nature of what is taking place.
Now I don’t have the time to go into a detailed discussions of PSYOPs, but I want to mention just one thing here: in the distant 1980s I distinctly remember a US general on TV discussing PSYOPs and declaring that “we have not won until CNN says we won“.  I am sure of the quote (I was very impressed by its implications) but, alas, I don’t remember who said that.  But my point is simple: US military commanders already understood how important PSYOPs are, especially to the western way of warfare.
Furthermore, it is not only about what theses a PSYOP campaign promotes, it is also about all the information which successful PSYOPs can obfuscate by drowning them in an informational tsunami made so much easier by the fact that the Neocons control both the western media AND the key western IT companies (YT, Google, etc.).
One example of the latter: the legendary LDNR commander Khodakovskii has been warning about large Ukrainian force concentrations near the city of Ugledar.  That is exactly what many others have been saying about the Kharkov area, but now that the PSYOP focus in on Kharkov, this piece of news is basically buried under what Martyanov aptly calls “white noise”.
But there is much more to this: western PSYOPs are not only directed at the western audience, they are also very much directed at the Russian general public.  They even include the creation of fake Telegram channels to announce plenty of fake news ranging from the hasty evacuation of the leaders of the LDNR to, I kid you now, the use of nuclear weapons (see image)!
This is just one, admittedly extreme, example, but there were many, many more.
And, of course, this is all made much worse by the absolutely TERRIBLE PR coming out of the Russian MoD: first General Konashenkov remained totally silent, and then he made a sudden announcement that all this was a super-dopper feint.  The reaction to that on many (if not most) Russian Telegram channels was “well, thank God, at least this time he did not say that “it was an act of good will by Russia” (remember that idiotic statement by Lavrov iirc?).
So while the enemy says A, the Russian MoD first saying absolutely nothing, and then is forced into a clumsy and utterly unsubstantiated declaration which only makes things worse.
And it is not like the Russian general public watches CNN or the BBC!  This is a video which was shown in Russia, and which is now very successfully used to a) discredit Russia and b) to frighten pro-Russian Ukrainians, see for yourself:

Here is what this military official was declaring in Kupiansk last June: “It is a fact that it is obvious that Russia is here forever. Russia will never leave from here. And all the needed aid will be delivered according to the terms we have discussed with the head of the local administration. Russia is here forever“.  This video was shown yesterday by the Ukrainian blogger Anatolii Sharii.
There are also some disturbing facts which cannot be denied.  For example, by pulling out from Izium, the Russians have now opened the road between Kharkov, Izium, Slaviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut/Soledar.  This makes no sense, as Big Serge correctly pointed out on his blog, Izium is the “gateway to the Donbass” and not only did the Russians know that, they also knew that could have defended Izium.  Yet, instead, they deliberately withdrew from it.
They better had a very good reason and I tend to think that they did (see below), but the official Russian verbiage does not address this question.
It get even weirder.  It was also evident that the town of Balakleia would be amongst the very first ones to be attacked by the Nazis, yet it was initially defended by a small force composed mostly of Russian Guards which fought truly heroically, but who were only reinforced by a relatively small force of paratroopers which eventually had to retreat.
As I said above, it is too early to come to any conclusions, but I will at least mention one possibility.
A deliberate withdrawal? A possible explanation of the why and the how
Okay, first, a caveat.  I am NOT saying that this what happened.  I am ONLY presenting a hypothesis which goes as follows:


  • The RGS did not want to attack the 2nd line Nazi fortifications which roughly goes, well, along the axis shown on the map above: Kharkov, Izium, Slaviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut/Soledar.  Doing so would have cost way too many Russian lives.
  • There is strong evidence that the Russians did not seriously try to defend Balakleia, Shevchenkovo and even Izium.  The only “dug in” once across the Oskol river near Kupiansk
  • While the initial Ukrainian force was relatively small (initial estimates spoke of 3 BTGs and special forces only), a much larger force (3 brigades according to some sources) soon poured into the terrain abandoned by Russia.  This made it possible for the Russian to inflict huge losses on that force, its supply lines and even its headquarters.
  • If the Russians had heavily and statically defended Balakleia and Izium, the enemy forces could have shown much more caution and not exposed themselves the way they did.
  • If the Russians had organized an major evacuation prior to the enemy attack, that would have tipped off NATO (which, of course, is the real enemy here!) about the Russian plans.
  • Leaving a token force could have been a bait.  Yes, this is horrible, because if that was really the case, the soldiers in Balakleia or Izium were basically sacrificed.  However, that happens in ALL wars.  Does anybody see a difference between a false attack as a feint and leaving a token force behind?  Either way, the chances of such forces are bad, but they are accepted for the greater good, in this case one could argue that leaving an exposed token force was infinitely better for the Russian plan than to have to take on the NATO forces along their fortified lines.  Frankly, I am surprized at how well and for how long this tiny force fought!

What about the civilians in all this?
Truthfully, I don’t know.
In one of his videos Gonzalo Lira said that all the pro-Ukrainian population of Kharkov has long left and that only pro-Russian people stayed.  Lira is in Kharkov, so who am I to argue?
However, Andrei Martyanov said that in reality, most the pro-Russian civilians were evacuated and that this argument about “sacrificed civilians” is basically a canard and another NATO PYSOP talking points.
Again, who am I to say?
I will say this: from a purely military point of view, if you are willing to sacrifice your own soldiers you must also be willing to accept the loss of innocent lives, especially if this loss of innocent civilian lives prevent a much bigger loss of civilians lives.
However, if that was the calculation, I think that it was a mistake or, should I say, it was the correct decision, but poorly executed.  Here is why

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