Thread by Will Schryver
I took a weekend break from the Twitter Wars only to return again to find the #SlavaUkraina trolls in a wanton orgy of premature exultation, and the Russophiles sunken yet again into the pit of despair and premature fault-finding.
One thing is screamingly obvious: although scores of people replied to my blog post from Friday (mostly near-zero follower freshly minted troll accounts – including dozens of the dog-faced meme-bots), vanishingly few had actually read it.
So, permit me to excerpt some of the more relevant passages.
After describing the events of the first three weeks of Ukraine’s under-powered September “counter-offensive” in the Kharkov region, I succinctly summarized the indisputable reality of the situation:
I also described how the Russians had executed an orderly withdrawal to a line along the east bank of the Oskol River, where they established strong defensive positions and proceeded to inflict punishing losses on the attacking AFU forces for the previous two weeks.
The Russian garrison at Kupyansk, although vastly outnumbered, somehow managed to hold out until a few days ago, all along inflicting significantly disproportionate losses on the repeated Ukrainian attempts to overwhelm it.
The Ukrainian focus then turned to Liman on the southern end of the line of defense, where the Kupyansk scenario played out again, but on a larger scale. By mid-day Friday, no more than 500 Russian troops in Liman were barely holding on against more than 10x their numbers.
The AFU, again with at least several hundred NATO-affiliated troops in the vanguard, executed a multi-pronged operational encirclement of the Russian garrison in Liman. Matters looked extremely grim at the time I published my blog post early Friday morning.
But as the day progressed, reports emerged that the Russians had dispatched substantial reinforcements to the area, accompanied by close air support. This force hit the encircling AFU troops hard, broke the encirclement, and opened up a large corridor towards Kremennaya.
It was at this juncture that I posted the following tweet, which consisted of nothing more than a qualified reference to the reports of both sides flooding reinforcements to the Liman battlefield.
The situation around Liman appears to have taken a dramatic turn. Multiple reports of the AFU attempting to rush reinforcements to the area from the south — would seem to indicate the Russians have fed major reinforcements into the battle and are achieving success.
— Will Schryver (@imetatronink) September 30, 2022
As one would expect, this tweet – despite its evident and deliberate qualifications – was aggressively mispresented as some sort of prediction of imminent Russian victory, notwithstanding my blog post prediction of the untenable situation at Liman.
As it turned out, the limited Russian counterattack consisted of a force only sufficient to open an escape corridor. First the wounded at Liman were evacuated, then the remaining garrison, covered by a handful of intrepid but ultimately doomed soldiers guarding the rear.
All but a company or so of Russian troops effected a withdrawal to Kremennaya.
The Ukrainians occupied Liman and, as has been their wont, almost immediately began a “filtration” operation to ferret out “collaborators” among the civilians.
Meanwhile, the Russians have established a defensive line anchored in Kremennaya and nearby towns.
It remains to be seen whether or not they will withdraw further and thereby draw out and dilute even more the increasingly over-extended Ukrainian offensive.
In any case, as it was during the first week of this light-weight Ukrainian “counter-offensive”, the overwhelming majorities of the Ukraine AND Russia fans are drawing divergent and yet equally fallacious conclusions from these recent events.
Make no mistake, the Ukrainian army has shown valor and occasional bouts of tactical acumen. Likewise have the Russians. But, contrary to the propaganda-induced delusions of the Ukraine fans, this offensive has been exorbitantly costly for the AFU.
The Russians, fighting from their preferred defensive posture, have inflicted radically disproportionate numbers of casualties.
Most concerningly for the Ukraine fans, they are ignoring a very important aspect of the final hours of the defense of Liman.
Yes, the AFU, with 6000+ troops, succeeded in placing the ~500 remaining defenders of Liman in an operational encirclement. But the few Russian regulars who came to the rescue did so with impressive ferocity. All combined arms elements were brought to bear.
For just enough time to effect the withdrawal of the Liman garrison, the Russians kicked ass and took names – massed artillery and close air support raging overhead. Then they skedaddled down the road to Kremennaya, content to continue on the defensive … for the time being.
For the time being because, as I noted near the end of my Friday morning blog post, massive Russian reinforcements have been flooding into Novorossiya for many weeks, and this buildup has risen in an urgent crescendo in just the past week.
The #SlavaUkraina crowd is convinced the Russians are an incompetent and beaten force. The numerous Russian doomers are convinced the Russian commanders are clueless, as they rabidly seek scapegoats and sacrificial lambs.
Neither camp appears to appreciate the hard reality that it is routinely necessary to sacrifice valiant fighters in service to a larger plan. Throughout military history, commanders have consigned good men to death now in order to preserve even more good men tomorrow.
The Russians are preparing “something big”. Whether it begins to manifest tomorrow, two weeks from now, or is even delayed until early 2023, something big is being prepared — war not with battalion tactical groups, but with army corps. Big arrows on the map.
The Ukrainians have, mostly for reasons of political expediency, opted to roll the dice in a courageous but inevitably futile last-gasp counterattack before this Russian buildup is ready to launch.
It will come up snake eyes.
Ukraine cannot and will not win this war.
Which one advising Biden?
There’s different configurations for ribbons. In one, you wear them all. In another, you wear only the top three. Ike had enough to go to his trousers.
I know what you mean, though.