Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 10, 2022

The Pullout From Kherson

The Russian command decided to remove its troops in the Kherson region from the right bank of the Dnieper.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu did not look happy when he gave the order. He knows that another such setback will cost him his job.


This move looks bad.

That alone will have consequences. The Ukrainians, the Biden administration and the European supporter of Ukraine will be emboldened by this. The support in Russia for the war will shrink. Some people in Russia will start to call for President Putin's head. There is no danger though that they will get it.

This move is operationally sound.

From the military point of view there is little chance to withstand a serious attack in the region as the resupply across the Dnieper river is very difficult and can not be guaranteed. Moreover the possible breach of the Dnieper river dams would make any resupply impossible for at least a week or even longer. That would be enough time for the Ukrainians to slaughter whatever number of Russian troops were left behind.

Strategically the move is bad.

It closes for now the possibility of moving into Nikolaev (Mykolaiv) and further towards Odessa. This could have and should have been done earlier.  But the Russian commanded did not commit sufficient forces for that fight. There were also sound reason for not doing that. Now it is too late to criticize those decisions.

It is quite possible that, behind the scene, a deal has been made over this. If one was made we are unlikely to learn of it anytime soon.

The priorities now should be to get the soldiers and equipment out of the area. It will require intense air defense coverage to prevent the close down of ferry points by Ukrainian artillery. There is no reason to make it easy for the Ukraine to regain the area. Until the evacuation is done any significant Ukrainian move into the area should be responded to with effective artillery fire.

Soon the Ukrainian army will start to move troops prepared for an attack in Kherson to other front lines. Russia must likewise move its troops to reinforce its positions elsewhere.

Morale requires that the next Russian move has to be big push with strategic significance. The concept of deep battle and deep operations should be reapplied. Historically it has nearly always worked to Russia's advantage.

But the big push does not need to be solely militarily. A further significant damage of Ukraine's economy via its electricity network is an additional option. To severely interdict its supply lines from the west is another one.

We need to look at the big picture.

The world is moving away from a unilateral 'western' led model towards a new multilateral future. By waging war in Ukraine Russia initiated and accelerated this historic change. In sight of that the pullback from Kherson is just a minor tactical loss. It can and likely will be rectified by moves happening elsewhere.

Posted by b on November 10, 2022 at 10:42 UTC | Permalink

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World's Second Army in action.

Posted by: Bernd Laurent | Nov 10 2022 10:48 utc | 1

This is a bit worrying. Hope it is only a phase. Now that the Democrats have fixed their election heaven knows what the US is going to get up to next.

Posted by: Leander Starr | Nov 10 2022 10:49 utc | 2

The South front line will not move after this. I wonder what the Russians are going to do after that. Sure staying there for that long has been a proof of strength, the bridgehead was a logistic hell.

I'm expecting a winter offensive by the Russians side. If not I have no idea what's the plan or the situation.

Posted by: Kek | Nov 10 2022 10:55 utc | 3

I think there is a deal in the works between the US and Russia. Pulling back from Kherson is part of that deal, that is not a military necessity. Russia will keep all other gained territories, but wont go further, eg Kharkov and Odessa wills tay Ukrainian. The US will go back to Russia's proposal from december 2021: Pullback to end of Cold War lines wont happen, but further NATO enlargments wont happen either, eg Georgia and Ukraine will be lost in a status quo ante.

Ukraine will be the biggest loser, 100k dead, power grid destroyed, economically done. Ppl will flee from the country to either Russia or EU. It will be a wasteland. Second loser will be EU, since Russian natural gas and oil wont come back. BRICS is emerging and these markets will get Russian commodities, especially China and India. EU will be priced out from world markets, since they cant produce goods as cheap as China or even US. Longterm, US will be a loser as well, since the US needs the economic power of the EU to dominate others via sanction regimes. The US doesnt have the same economic leverage with the EU out of the picture.

Posted by: Arne Hartmann | Nov 10 2022 10:56 utc | 4

If territory doesn't matter, only wellbeing of soldiers is important.. why even start a war? Every bridgehead is dangerous by its nature, this is obvious.

Posted by: smartboy | Nov 10 2022 10:58 utc | 5

It is not a minor tactical loss. It is a major embarrassment for Russia. Kherson voted to be part of Russia. Now they're abandoned just because of strategy?

If this not temporary, Donbas will start to have second thoughts about their security and this whole operation will be for nothing.

If Putin wants to remain in power, he must priotize taking Kherson back, stabilize the lines, draw a border, call it quits at any more advances and figure out a way put these Ukrainian offensives permanently out either through negotiation or bombing every government building in Kyiv into oblivion.

Posted by: FieryButMostPeaceful | Nov 10 2022 10:58 utc | 6

Thanks for your comment b.
It is a possible explanation that a deal has been made behind the scene. If so, I am only amazed that Russia was ready to give up such a valuable asset in exchange for a word from Washington or from Kyev (both of whom cannot be relied upon to keep any word). If the word was simply a threat, this is a lot worse.
Another case is, the Russian army is retreating because they can no longer hold the position. In this situation they surely got nothing in exchange for pulling out of it.

Posted by: lahire | Nov 10 2022 10:59 utc | 7

b: "This could have and should have been done earlier. But the Russian commanded did not commit sufficient forces for that fight. There were also sound reason for not doing that. Now it is too late to criticize those decisions."

Exactly. I would also question the "sound reasons for not doing that."

At the very least, the Russians should have reinforced their bridgehead on the west side of the Dnieper so that they could hold it short of anything but that dam flood. Being west of the Dnieper was a strategic advantage that should have been kept.

Further, as I've said repeatedly here and at Martyanov's site, there should have been a counter move to the dam threat. That threat should have been obvious from the minute the Ukrainians started shelling it, which is what, weeks or months ago. That the Russians ignored the threat until now is a failure of planning. That is indisputable.

Now the Russians will have to conquer Kherson all over again. No amount of copium about "preserving forces" and "straightening defense lines" alters that fact.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Nov 10 2022 11:06 utc | 8

Sorry to disagree.
This is treason from the part of Servants of the Oligarchs.
I call for the rise of the People.

Posted by: Greg Galloway | Nov 10 2022 11:06 utc | 9

Putin stated the perimeters of the SMO when he announced it. This bridgehead for Odessa garbage is just that - garbage, projection.

Special military operation... I guess many toddlers throwing tantrums thinks that equates to a standard military operation.
There was a few good/thoughtful comment in the Ukraine thread but just miles of shit to scroll over to find them.

Good post b. There is something going on under the surface with US having been in talks with Russia for the last month. The two security council chiefs meeting/talks a few days back seems to be a major factor.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:07 utc | 10

Tactical withdrawals are primarily military decisions. It can be argued that the evacuation of civilians saves the lives of the people of Kherson. However, when leaders make pronouncements they must back them up by their actions or else justifiably face being classified as weak or worse. If Russia does not defend all of the new territories it has claimed then it would have failed to live up to the promises made by its leaders. Time will tell if Russia is up to the task.

Posted by: Bilaal | Nov 10 2022 11:12 utc | 11

Reporting this morning is that Patrushev and Sullivan have some sort of deal about something. See Pepe Escobar. Others have the basic story too. Pepe will update if there are developments.

Sulliva is a 45 year old lawyer with little in his background but campaign work for Hillary. Patrushev will take him for a ride. US flat does not have anyone better as negotiator.

If there is a live possibility the Khakova dam can or will be destroyed there is no choice. Or the dam threat is a convenient excuse. The technical there is beyond me. The tech details I have seen and cannot evaluate were that it would take 7 tons of explosive to blow. HIMARS is 90kilos at a time. And that te years ago the dam was considered in urgent need of repair and nothing has been done.

More and more reports all fighting is spearheaded by mercs and NATO troops. There is no way that force is as effective as a regular army and there is no way US/NATO can keep such a force in the field over time.

Posted by: oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 11:14 utc | 12

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:07 utc | 10

Exactly. Sullivan was in Kiev to force Z to accept any deal the US is about to do with Russia. And Z wasnt happy about it, because he knows he cant sell a frozen conflict along the current lines to Ukrainians who he led to the slaughter house. But this is world politics.

Why is the US doing it? My sense is they know the next Russian move and know that this can end the Ukrainian war on Russian terms. My guess is that Russia plans to close the Polish border with a big arrow move from Belarus down. Once the supply line is cut, Ukraine is done. How Putin can get the Russian constitution in line with the deal, is another matter: He cannot, because the deal gives Ukraine territory the Russian Constitution sees as part of Russia. If Putin can survive this politically is not carved in stone.

Posted by: Arne Hartmann | Nov 10 2022 11:19 utc | 13

No deal was made there.
This move is reasonable.
Kherson is on wrong side of Dnjeper river. To defend it, it would cost lives.
So, it came so far, Russian forces have first to break ukrainian army backbone. Defeat them on whole front, not to suffer to many lives.
There is major difference between west strategy, where western army is destroying entire cities, kill houndreds of thousands civilians, and Russia strategy, which brings lives of civilians in foreground...
It also means, city can be build up after, lives of casulties can not be restored.
Now Herson will be exposed to heavy artilery from Russian side. It will cost hundreds of live western mercieynaries daily.
So, Russiany army will be back... Not to forget, Russians did burn Moscow, time ago and won the war.
Herson is governing city of Herson region. Putin promised them souveregnity... They will get it.

Posted by: preseren3 | Nov 10 2022 11:20 utc | 14

"the resupply across the Dnieper river is very difficult and can not be guaranteed"

Presumably because of NATO weapons taking out the bridges.

You have to ask, as I have been from the beginning - why on earth were these weapons able to get anywhere near the area? Why weren't at minimum all rail lines into Western Ukraine closed down and kept closed? Rzeszow airport has never been so busy with flights from the US and Brize Norton.

And, assuming Russia hasn't got some kind of deal behind the scenes (would you trust the US?), they'll have to recapture it all over again in an opposed major river crossing.

At least they are getting the civilians out, unlike the poor buggers in Bucha and Kupyansk - left to be "hunted down like rats and shot" as the Mail put it.

Posted by: YetAnotherAnon | Nov 10 2022 11:25 utc | 15

oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 11:14 utc | 12

I posted this at my VK site some hours ago.

This is supposedly the Sullivan formula that has been put to Zelensky.
Our source in the OP said that Sullivan offered Zelensky the formula/drafts of the negotiation track with the Kremlin, which should become the basis of the new Minsk/Istanbul/Riyadh-3. According to preliminary agreements, Kherson is moving away from Ukraine, and the front is being established along the Dnieper and then frozen along the contact line in Zaporizhia./Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine receives electricity from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, and its critical infrastructure stops firing rockets. The West allocates a loan of $ 50 billion and part of the frozen / confiscated assets of Russia to restore Ukraine. Separately, Kiev receives modern air defense systems and artillery installations/tanks.

And this
Our source in the OP said that negotiations between the United States and Russia have been going on actively for the last month, and the negotiating platform is represented by Saudi Arabia. The main negotiation line is at the level of close officials, from the United States this is Sullivan, and from Russia this is Patrushev. Bankova has long been aware of these processes, and Zelensky considers any peace talks before the withdrawal of Russian troops to the 1991 borders to be a defeat for Ukraine, as Yermak said at a meeting with Sullivan.
As for freezing the contact line at the current point? Perhaps Russia would but I don't see Russia and Ukraine reaching agreement on that. Ukraine artillery is still within range of Donetsk city so I'm guessing the US will stand back while Russia clears the Donbas and then sit on a line of control. Zelensky does not realize how lethal it is to be a friend of the US.

The Ukrainian telegram channels have been thinking there was negotiations going on for some time. UK's new PM won't pick up the phone when Zed calls, plus the UK economy is on the verge of crashing, EU have canceled promised billions due to the state of their economy. And US wants to put the war against Russia on hold so it can attack China.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:28 utc | 16

I’m inclined to think that Kherson was an example of mission creep. It wasn’t part of the original plan. It was like Kiev and Kharkiv - advanced on simply to pressurise the Kiev regime. But the Russians took Kherson and then were stuck with it. The new chap has simply gone back to the mission they started with. And that to me is both admirable and correct. Shows we are dealing with serious people and not emotional wrecks who’ll let soldiers die for their own pride. Of course, there is nothing to stop the Russians taking the place later. But as a plan rather than an accident.

Posted by: Guy L’Estrange | Nov 10 2022 11:28 utc | 17

It appears that Putin has now chickened out of the G20 summit. Not a positive sign. Zelensky will now be there, crowing his head off and hogging the glory.

Where do we go from here? I certainly don't know and I wonder who does, including the Russian leadership.

Posted by: B. Wildered | Nov 10 2022 11:28 utc | 18

No amount of spin or wishful thinking can hide the fact that the retreat from parts of Kherson is a humiliation and major PR, if not military, defeat for Russia. These territories voted to join Russia in the referendum and this is how Russia rewards them. If war is viewed as a continuation of politics by armed means, then the Russians lost the war the minute they failed to enforce their "red lines" against NATO's meddling.

As things stand, it is clear that the Russian military is unable to achieve the objectives set by the political leaders. Russia cannot impose her will on Ukraine and Zelensky, not to talk of the combined West. The reputation of the Russian military has been tarnished by the poor performance in this SMO and its clear to all but the most deluded that the Russian military is flawed and in need of serious reform.

Posted by: Jay | Nov 10 2022 11:30 utc | 19

One of Napoleon's maxims was. "Never reinforce weakness" Although he said it in French, of course.

The Dnieper bridgehead was weakness, the right decision is to withdraw and concentrate on clearing the Donbass.

Posted by: canuck | Nov 10 2022 11:32 utc | 20

As Ukraine is taken back to the dark ages, the unconditional surrender of the junta will cede the lost territories back in exchange for new sub station transformers and a promise not to blow them up again. The EU must see the migrant wave coming from Ukraine and realise that it will have a catastrophic cascade reaction on their societies hence the pressure to finally compromise. Russia didn't fall into the trap of having to look after 30m+ ungrateful losers, that's for the EU/US to cope with.

Posted by: Jon | Nov 10 2022 11:35 utc | 21

Arne Hartmann | Nov 10 2022 11:19 utc | 13

I think whatever deal has been made is for a pause in the war rather than permanent. With Ukraine being in the state it is in, I think time is on Russias side. The Ukrainians have to get through the coming winter, foreign funding/aid is drying up.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:35 utc | 22

Supply lines. What supplies? US/NATO is out of 155mm shells. Out of tanks. Out of howitzers. Out of missiles and launchers.
Low themselves on fuel and food. West has no way to conjure up any of the above. No manufacturing base. All West has is PR apparatus.

Patrushev/Sullivan talks signal US is not ready to use nukes over Ukraine.

Posted by: oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 11:39 utc | 23

Weaponize Ukrainians and the oncoming winter. Turn them into refugees by destroying energy infrastructure. Push them west to the border. Force respond politically. War by other means.

Posted by: Jimbobla | Nov 10 2022 11:39 utc | 24

"We haven't started anything serious yet"

"The Russians have only committed 10% of their forces"

"Strelkov is a bitter old crank"

"Russian BTGs would crush any NATO formations"

"Ukrainian forces are on the brink of collapse"

"Putin will never negotiate a Minsk 3"

Am I missing anything?

Posted by: moaobserver | Nov 10 2022 11:41 utc | 25

Agreed on all counts.

In my limited dealings with Russian gov't entities, this ad hoc, patch up, lack of strategy caused by denial of reality ending in more problems than dealing with the original ones, is all too familiar.

On that count, i'm not sure i'm as bullish on Russia's ability to succeed in its broader strategic objectives in light of this latest setback and its overall performance, hampered by some poor communications and quite bewildering decisions of the past 12 months. We shall have to see.

What is certain now, is that this damn war will go on for much longer as will all of its negative consequences, first and foremost for the Ukrainian people, but also both Russians and Westerners alike. Let's just hope it doesn't extend beyond that, with energy and trade woes carrying over to food security.

Posted by: Et Tu | Nov 10 2022 11:43 utc | 26

Our source in the OP said that Sullivan offered Zelensky the formula/drafts of the negotiation track with the Kremlin, which should become the basis of the new Minsk/Istanbul/Riyadh-3. According to preliminary agreements, Kherson is moving away from Ukraine, and the front is being established along the Dnieper and then frozen along the contact line in Zaporizhia./Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine receives electricity from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, and its critical infrastructure stops firing rockets. The West allocates a loan of $ 50 billion and part of the frozen / confiscated assets of Russia to restore Ukraine. Separately, Kiev receives modern air defense systems and artillery installations/tanks.
Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:28 utc | 16

Ukrainian channels are pure crap.
So in 3-6 months Zely will attack again with more mercenaries and all modern nato weapons they can tranport in that amount of time? Great deal!
The stolen billions from Russia going into war against Russia will happen, it's like hitting someone's face with his own fists. It's funny, actually, another item of great Russian strategy. Just wait until China starts to sanction Russia in exchange for Taiwan from US.

Posted by: rk | Nov 10 2022 11:44 utc | 27

The reason for these last 3 Russian defeats is systemic. NATO has superior C&C, intelligence and long-range artillery. It means they can destroy important nodes in the Russian rear. Months back, Ukraine/NATO started shelling the Artemovsk bridge across the Dnepr. Everyone on this board was mocking them. Now 3 months later, their strategy panned out.

It also means that NATO can effectively push Russia back as far as it wants. It just has to keep hitting important nodes, which it can with its long-range artillery. At this stage, there is no reason to believe that Ukraine's plan to take back Crimea is not realistic. That would render the whole SMO exercise moot.
Russian artillery is composed of taking lots of pot-shots with the occasional hit.
NATO artillery is one-shot-one-hit. NATO needs far less ammunition than Russia, because it uses it much more effectively.

If all this happened b/c of a secret backroom deal or US threats, it is better for everybody. The war ends on the Dniepr, there is a ceasefire, no more senseless slaughtering, and perhaps some of the sanctions can be lifted and ordinary people can have lower energy bills. Zelensky will be a hero, NATO will have learnt a lot from the conflict and improve it's superior weaponry even more, and the Russians will lose face. But ultimately, it is their own fault.

Posted by: grits | Nov 10 2022 11:49 utc | 28

rk | Nov 10 2022 11:44 utc | 27

So long as its accurate it doesn't matter if its crap. The channels Legitimate and Resident have proved to be better informed than any other source I can find.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 11:51 utc | 29

Additional thought: everyone, including b and commenters here and other forums, especially the western media, everyone except the Kremlin seem to have forgotten that Russia has mobilized 300,000 more troops.

There will likely be another battle to take back Kherson next year, draw a border and bring the conflict to an end.

However, after having seen what happened (or didn't rather) in Kharkhiv and Lyman a couple of months ago, I am not holding my breathe for a Russian return

Posted by: FieryButMostPeaceful | Nov 10 2022 11:52 utc | 30

@12 oldhippie

Sullivan is a tiny hat. He will take Patrushev for a ride, as they always do.

Posted by: zeun | Nov 10 2022 11:53 utc | 31

Ukraine is just going to buy some time and more weapons with this deal.

Posted by: Rahela | Nov 10 2022 11:53 utc | 32

100,000 Russian military casualties in Ukraine: US general

About 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded since the invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv’s armed forces “probably” suffered a similar level of casualties, the top US general says.

I would not put that number that high but it is likely above 50000 which is terrible enough.

Posted by: Zanon | Nov 10 2022 11:55 utc | 33

I rarely feel a pressing need to comment here or elsewhere after reading this site and others for years but here goes. BTW I'm a former archivist from Rotterdam, the Netherlands and under the same name on twitter.

I don't care about the no doubt good reasons general Surovikin, the Russian General Staff, Minister of Defense Shoigu as well as president Putin can come up. I am not a Russian, just a Dutch woman living in her own country

This is simply a propaganda disaster of major proportions waiting to happen. Does anyone really think the US propaganda machine won't go into overdrive? It will be at least 2 orders of magnitude worse than the 3 days until Kiev is taken, the fake Bucha Russian warcrimes, the sinking of the Moskva, Snake Island, the glorious Kharkov offense, etc...

No, what worries me is the effect here in western Europe as well as the 7/8 of the world that didn't sanction Russia. Plenty of countries in that 7/8 of the world that stayed neutral for prudent reasons, wobbly knees sitting on wobbly fences and all.
The governments with some more intestinal fortitude happily jumped on the MIR payment system bandwagon when Russia seemed to be winning. They just as soon jumped off when the USA started applying pressure over the summer.

I fear this loss of Kherson will be used to bully more countries in line with sanctions on Russia. After all, after the glorious entry into Kherson by the Actor-not-in-charge-of-the -Ukraine (with the SBU and AZOV happily murdering the stay behind citizens, whatever their allegiance) and him declaring: today Kherson, tomorrow Crimea as we have said all along.
Who can withstand the pressure when a new Russian offensive might not take place untill spring? A frozen contact line during winter is plenty of time for the USA to work on neutral countries joining the west in sanctioning Russia.

There are governments here in western Europe who are not happy and are dragging their feet. Germany and France come to mind. Will they really not hand over tanks and more artillery after the glorious conquest of Kherson? Can they withstand more pressure? Not even Switzerland is going to throw a spanner in the works now that UBS and Credit Suise seem to be in trouble and if they fail, the rest of the European banking system is in grave difficulty again. Is the EU ready to rescue its banks again if France and Germany don't want to deliver more stuff to glorious Ukraine? My own country, the Netherlands, might well finally give some real military stuff in numbers, perhaps some of our old F16s or a Patriot SAM battery. I keep hearing the Brits and USians are training pilots in Italy.

And then there are countries like Turkey. Elections next year and my sister and her Turkish partner are worried that things might completely get out of hand after the elections with the potential for a civil war. My sister has for years lived in Turkey but had to return to the Netherlands and now can't go back thanks to changes in the law that require that no more than 20% of people living in a neighbourhood can be foreigners. Her neighbourhood has seen a large influx of Ukranians and Russians. Only way for her to return to her home is to marry and even that is no guarantee.

Did I mention oil drilling in Turkey? Apparently the treaty signed after WW1 doesn't allow Turkey to drill for oil for a hundred years. Next year or the one after that will see drilling starting, no doubt. What other motive does the USA need to interfere in that country?

Did I mention the talk in Turkey seems to be about all the USian bases being build in Greece? Turks haven't forgotten the coup attempt from a few years ago. Neither has the CIA forgotten who twarted that. Getting Turkey fully back in the western camp would be a major blow for Russia. The straits would be closed completely to them and NATO would likely be able to move into the Black Sea...

I have my doubts and these are some of my thoughts on what might happen after Russia withdraws from the west bank of the Dnepr. Perception is all here in the west as that is what is left and many are likely to fall once again for the USian propaganda.

I hope the explanations from Russia are honest and coming soon if they really give up the west bank. Or it could all be maskirovka to seem weak when they are strong and some offense is in the works.

But as I wrote, I have my doubts.

greetings from Rotterdam

Posted by: NaomiClareNL | Nov 10 2022 11:55 utc | 34

@30 FieryButMostPeaceful

We were all bamboozled by this mobilisation rhetoric. The 300 000 was needed to just stabilise the front, nothing more.
Ukraine/NATO was obviously underestimated by Russia and the peanut gallery. Biden/EU moves seemed foolish at the time, but they seem to know what they are doing.

Posted by: grits | Nov 10 2022 11:56 utc | 35

"It is quite possible that, behind the scene, a deal has been made over this."

Yes, a deal which would cave in on all the stated war goals (full Borderland demilitarization, denazification and neutrality) and surrender large chunks of Russian territory. And somehow Putin is supposed to be able to spin this to the Russian people as "victory".

And then the day after Minsk III is signed the Ukrainians will again redouble their shelling the Donbass and gather forces to invade it. If Russia's Kherson territory can be won on the battlefield given sufficient NATO support and Russian forbearance, why not the Donbass? Why not the Crimea? They've already advanced far beyond Putin's proclaimed red line.

Posted by: Flying Dutchman | Nov 10 2022 11:57 utc | 36

[25] Am I missing anything?

Given what an echo chamber this place has been I would guess you are. Other sites like Naked Capitalism (in their coverage of the Russia's invasion of Ukraine) have been the same. Pretty amazing.

There is in no way any guarantee of a Ukrainian victory and it would be pyric given the damage to the country, but it's certainly not going the way Russia's thought it would - no matter what conspiracy theory is dreamed up.

It looks like the high point for the Russians was when they got into Kyiv, all the way to the zoo and that was on the 2nd day of the invasion.

Posted by: Bill Smith | Nov 10 2022 11:57 utc | 37

"We haven't started anything serious yet"

"The Russians have only committed 10% of their forces"

"Strelkov is a bitter old crank"

"Russian BTGs would crush any NATO formations"

"Ukrainian forces are on the brink of collapse"

"Putin will never negotiate a Minsk 3"

Am I missing anything?

Posted by: moaobserver | Nov 10 2022 11:41 utc | 25

1. Russia hasnt been serious at all, Ukraine would have been out of working infrastructure 1 month into the war.

2. Russia has escalation dominance up to millions of soldiers. Ukraine cant match that. From this perspective, Russia commited only a tiny bit, not even 10%.

3. Strelkov was correct that Russia needed mobilization to match Ukraine's 7 waves.

4. Russian BTGs havent fought NATO formations and you should hope it never comes to that, because you then wouldnt be typing your nonsense.

5. Ukrainian forces would have collapsed without massive NATO supplies. Ukraine bought the current line of contact with 100k+ dead. Ukrainians willingly die for Z and NATO really surprised me. If this ever happened here in Germany, at least I wouldnt die for Scholz & Habeck.

6. Putin will make a deal eventually, because all wars end there. If he permanently gives Kherson to Ukraine, this deal will be in breach of the Russian Constitution. How he can reconcile this fact without tarnishing his status, is beyond me, but he chose to incorporate Kherson into Russia, when he knew, it would be difficult to hold. However, a deal can as well be made after the Russian army closes the Polish border in a big arrow move from Belarus. Then Putin gets whatever territory he wants, because Ukraine cant keep fighting without resupplies.

Posted by: Arne Hartmann | Nov 10 2022 11:59 utc | 38

Kherson can never be given back to Ukraine in terms of a peace deal. It is Russian territory enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Not even Putin can survive such a move.

The biggest mistake the early commanders of the SMO was to advance to fast to positions they weren’t in a position (men & materiel) to defend. They should have advanced, consolidated, then advance etc.

Russian troops should never have crossed the river to occupy a position that the Russian command would have difficulty to supply.
Surovikin is simply rectifying mistakes made by the previous commanders of the SMO.

Zaporozhye, Kherson, Lugansk and Donetsk are gone forever. All that remains is clearing the Ukies out of those territories whether by peace deal or force.

Posted by: Down South | Nov 10 2022 11:59 utc | 39

@ Jay | Nov 10 2022 11:30 utc | 19

You are dead right Jay. This will go down as one of the most screwed up military campaigns in history by a major power. The consequences and reverberations of these retreat decisions, to just walk away from strategically important regions mere weeks after the population there was encouraged to and celebrated for voting to join Russia, is a sign both the political as much as the military leadership's lack of resolve and composure. General Armageddon, lol.

All this half-arsed SMO nonsense reminds of the bathtub scene in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. "When You Have to Shoot, Shoot, Don't Talk."

Posted by: Juan Moment | Nov 10 2022 11:59 utc | 40

"Grits" sounds about right, though RF artillery is capable of accurate strikes too, it's a mixture. Most accurate artillery in the world is useless if you don't know what to aim at.

Fun fact, "Sailing Yacht A" cost about 600 million dollars to build (in Germany!). All money extracted from Soviet infrastructure and exploited Russian workers. Confiscated now of course.

How many surveillance satellites would 600 million dollars buy you, Mr. Putin? Roscosmos would know. Bit late now, though.

Seems your oligarch pals really aren't helpful, huh? How is the "flat tax" working out?

Kissinger had him pegged - a naive, sentimental fool - a manager promoted above his pay grade.

Posted by: moaobserver | Nov 10 2022 12:01 utc | 41

My takeaway is that this conflict will be ongoing and broaden for many more years. Measured in the time it takes for Europe to fully replace and re-price Russia's hydrocarbon energy and metals.

In the meantime Kherson is a burden.

Kherson's industry literally has to compete with Odessa's. A hard bargain when both cities are on life support with foreign aid, which itself is borrowed into existence.

Furthermore, Taiwan is now in play.

Taiwan's machine tool industry is absolutely vital to the United States.

All of Ukraine will have to be rebuilt to serve a purpose that has not yet been decided. Until then the people who can will migrate. The effect of that migration will be years long.

The withdrawal from Kherson is only the curtain falling on Act I. The scene has been set for much more drama to come. The gun over the mantelpiece is the Global Economy.

Posted by: too scents | Nov 10 2022 12:03 utc | 42

If all civilians and movable items of significant civilian/cultural importance (e.g. Zoo animals, Artwork, Statues etc.) have been evacuated) - Ukraine forces can't use them as human shields or use them as ransom objects in Kherson.
Doesn't that means that Russians can carpet bomb/shell any areas or buildings used by Ukraine forces in Kherson with no danger of killing civilians now they have an effectively unbreakable/inexhaustible military supply chain?

Posted by: Iain | Nov 10 2022 12:03 utc | 43

Peter AU1 @ 16

I have Telegram, can't even find the translation feature as it displays here. So will go with your text on this page.

US has no air defence systems worth spit to send. Tanks? M1A1? Maintenance pigs. Too heavy. Too specialized. Too few. Does Germany have a significant quantity of Leopards? This is purely for PR.

US cannot sustain the mercenary force in Ukraine long. If that prop were pulled out Ukraine military would fold. The broad deal suggested would make the hardcore Nazis melt down. Without Nazis current Ukraine government/state does not even exist. Of course in many ways Ukraine has not existed for some time. What remains of Ukraine is a sacrificial pawn pushed around the chessboard.

Posted by: oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 12:04 utc | 44

🇱🇺🇺🇦Polish General Benek on the situation in Kherson: Russians are luring the Ukrainians into a "trap". 

Polish General Mieczysław Bieniek does not believe in the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson. He said this in a conversation with 

"We are dealing with a simulated retreat," he said, adding that it all looks "very suspicious."
The general believes that a possible scenario is a partial retreat and leaving "traps" - mines and hidden firing positions.
"The question is whether they will fall for this trick," Benek said.

Posted by: Down South | Nov 10 2022 12:06 utc | 45

The big issue isn't the withdrawal per se--in and of itself, this move actually makes sense. However, the withdrawal appears to be part of the bigger problem that Russia seems to keep folding when push comes to shove. Remember "those who interfere will face consequences like never before"? Remember "neutrality, demilitarization, and denazification"? Remember the "decision-making centers"? Remember the fertilizer deal? Remember the plan to prosecute the Azov scum? NATO seems to think that it can keep pushing and Russia will only retaliate against Ukrainians, who are expendable anyway. They seem to be right.

In the end, Russia can only win if it neutralizes the threat from Ukrainian territory and makes NATO afraid to deploy missiles close to Russia. Thus, the big question is: how can Russia make NATO afraid of it? So far, they seem to be doing everything they can to make NATO unafraid.

Some have said that NATO is run by morons who don't understand the risks they're taking. Let's say that this assessment of NATO is correct. You know what--the most successful criminals usually aren't the smart ones--they're the criminals who are so stupid that they blunder their way to success because people can't rationalize how stupid they are! Caveman logic says that when Ugg shoves Blugg, Blugg needs to shove Ugg back or he's a wuss. And while Ugg may be a dumb caveman, he's going to win a shoving match with Albert Einstein 100% of the time.

Posted by: Donbass Lives Matter | Nov 10 2022 12:09 utc | 46

The EU will involve the Balkan countries, Moldova and Ukraine in joint projects that assist military mobility for the quick deployment of combat forces.
Road and rail infrastructure in EU must be converted to allow for rapid transport of military equipment - Borrell.

Posted by: rk | Nov 10 2022 12:10 utc | 47

Have anyone seen George Webb twitter posts about this agreement? He was talking about this deal for a while…

Posted by: Xena | Nov 10 2022 12:11 utc | 48

I thought you and the other armchair general bloggers had declared back in March that Ukranazistan no lost had the ability to move forces to mount offensives?

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Nov 10 2022 12:13 utc | 49


#1 If Russia hasn't been serious then they are just unbelievably incompetent. I could see that argument for the first few days of the war, given that they expected one thing and got another. But after that? What are we at day 250, 260...
#2 Russia does outnumber Ukraine but they have a big funnel in the lack of infrastructure to train and equip those troops in the short to median time frame.
#3 Why has Russia not reacted to the Ukraine's mobilization?
#4 Large numbers of Russian BTGs are have now lost men and equipment. While NATO has had time to spend more time training their forces given what they see on the battlefield. NATO has effectively gotten larger at the same time. True, Sweden and Finland are not yet in it but a number of countries have given them security guarantees. And given those two are suppling Ukraine with weapons, I have no doubt they would do the same to actual NATO countries if the Russian BTGs did get involved with NATO forces
#5 Mostly agree but don't know what the KIA is.
#6 Yup, and remember at this point Russia doesn't control the entirety of any of the 4 oblasts they annexed. And this talks to your #5 too:

Posted by: Bill Smith | Nov 10 2022 12:13 utc | 50

@17 Guy L’Estrange

except, if Russia had moved on Odessa, Nikolaev and Kharkov, you would have probs also cheered them. Making up excuses on the fly is more about protecting your own ego than anything else.

Posted by: grits | Nov 10 2022 12:15 utc | 51

Posted by: oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 12:04 utc | 45

Hold your thumb down on a Telegram post in Russian and a list of options will appear.

Copy Link

Click on Translate and wait till the translation appears

Once the translation appears, at the bottom of the translated text there will be two options

Copy Translation
Change Language

Click on Copy Translation and then you can post here if you want to

Posted by: Down South | Nov 10 2022 12:16 utc | 52

The lot of you that thinks they are smarter than whole Russian military apparatus should try and put their egos under control. Preserving their soldiers lives and military gear sounds like a brilliant plan to me, no sane commander would leave their soldiers with a huge bridgeless river behind their backs, no ability to resuply versus a horde of incoming fanatics. Mongolian tactic fuck yeah, retreat a bit and shell the shit out of the city, kill a few hundred brain washed maniacs a day sounds like a sound plan. Rebuild the city later to your liking.

If in the future Russkies dont clear the whole coast and take Odessa then we have a problem and there is some secret deal we dont know about and it basically means Russkies are the same as western morons, but lets hope they are not like that for the time being.

Posted by: Jzo | Nov 10 2022 12:16 utc | 53

Any WWII history of the Eastern Front will show the German terror of Soviet bridgeheads and their insistence that any bridgehead had to be attacked and eliminated by all forces available before the Soviets poured in troops to reinforce it, broke out of it, and threatened German targets in the rear. Either Russia has forgotten how to fight or else Putin is - as I have been saying from the start it is the only thing I trust him to do - going to throw the LDNR, Kherson, and Zaporozhye under the bus.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Nov 10 2022 12:18 utc | 54

Posted by: Jzo | Nov 10 2022 12:16 utc | 54

Russian leadership doesnt seek to win that war.
That's all.

Posted by: Greg Galloway | Nov 10 2022 12:19 utc | 55

canuck | Nov 10 2022 11:32 utc | 20

"One of Napoleon's maxims was. "Never reinforce weakness" ...
The Dnieper bridgehead was weakness, the right decision is to withdraw and concentrate on clearing the Donbass."
That's right.

I read a lot about this Kherson situation and the reasons for the retreat mentioned here are true, but I wanna add one comment I remember, which is a general criticism of the Russian strategy. It says that Russia opened too many fronts and stretched its forces too much, which sounds simple, but the truth is often simple but hard to grasp.
RAF fight 1. Kherson front, 2. the ZPP (power plant) front, 3. near Ugledar, 4. in front of Donezk, with the most important battles of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, 5. the corner of Sieversk and Lyman, and 6. the whole Kharkov front.
They fight now for months and months for Bakhmut, the Ukrainians pouring in ever more troops (like 50.000 at some point), so that this town and Avdiivka will soon become the turning point of the whole operation.

Though I'm no military strategist it just makes sense to me and seems logical to concentrate your troops to fewer goals, achieve these goals, and when you are finished with it open a new one.
Just my 50c.

Posted by: cortomaltese | Nov 10 2022 12:19 utc | 56

oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 12:04 utc | 45

On the depletion of US weapons and ammo - there was a write up in US media about a week back - WaPo or NYT or something - on saving the ammo for the war with China. If there has been a deal and I believe there has, it is because US wants to put the Ukraine war on hold and attack China.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 12:19 utc | 57

@Xena 49.

I saw it. If it is implemented then Putin has to be removed from office by all means necessary.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Nov 10 2022 12:19 utc | 58

One thing to watch for is if the pause with hitting the electrical grid and infrastructure continues, that would be an indication there's a truce of some sort, small or big, in the works. If the strikes pick right back up tonight or in a day or two then there is none and Kherson is exactly what it seems, a tactical retreat. Other possibility is e-grid strikes are on hold as they are poised at 'the straw that broke the camel's back' point. The last straw is awaiting western political input, or maybe the first really cold day.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Nov 10 2022 12:20 utc | 59

[email protected] never conquered Kherson, in fact few shots were fired, that was the big surprise, no eight month fight just to get to Kherson, it was days and the RF had control of the area.

Cheers M

Posted by: sean the leprechaun | Nov 10 2022 12:20 utc | 60

The only reason the Kherson withdrawal is bad is because of people being dumb. The population was evacuated so there is nobody to protect, the bridges and rail links are below up so neither side can stage an offensive via it towards anything else. The Odessa offensive idea was dead from the beginning. On the other hand, if the Russians stay,they will be massacred due to the dam being destroyed and their lack of logistics. People who are upset need to ask themselves why, as their reaction is fundamentally irrational. The Ukrainians will have nice headlines again but that's about all.

Posted by: Clubofinfo | Nov 10 2022 12:20 utc | 61


Pepe latest

There IS a deal between Sullivan and Patrushev.

We don't REALLY know the details.

But yes - it includes Kherson.

That's why Patrushev could leave to take care of very important strategic partnership business in Iran.

And the deal is the hidden "secret" in Maria's announcement that "we're ready for negotiations".

The Russians will leave the river bank in a managed military retreat.

That would not have been possible without managed
military-to-military negotiations.

These negotiations have been going on for weeks. The messenger is Saudi Arabia.

The collective aim in the short term is towards a sort of Minsk 3 - with Istanbul/Riyadh attached.

NO ONE is paying attention to the coke clown. Sullivan went to Kiev to present a fait accompli - of sorts.

The Dnieper will be - in thesis - the settled and negotiated frontline.

Note that all this coincides with the outcome of the US elections - where the Dems did not exactly lose.

Meanwhile Russia is making more and more gains in the battle for Bakhmut.

No illusions in Moscow that this crypto-Minsk 3 will be respected.

Doesn't matter. Winter is coming - and so many new options are now on the table.

Posted by: Jo | Nov 10 2022 12:23 utc | 62

While I expected the announced withdrawal from Kherson to be framed as the direct precursor to a Kiev regime victory in Western media and indeed The Guardian's number one Russophobe & big fat fibber Luke Harding (reporting somewhere near the city of Snihurivka) led with this headline:

‘Russia kaput!’: Ukraine brigade eyes victory as enemy retreats from Kherson

What I didn't expect is the level of tantrums & tears from those sympathetic to the Russian position, especially in the light of the mass evacuation of citizens & the constant shelling of the Kakhovskaya/Kakhovka hydroelectric dam which only last Sunday took at direct HIMAR hit to one of its floodgates.

Surely the mass evacuation & withdrawal from Kherson illuminates just how seriously the Russians take the possibility of a successful direct hit on the dam and until this threat can be eliminated, their actions make total sense.

Seeing the Kherson withdrawal as a stand-alone action & an affront to how you perceive the Russians should execute the war (along with the chant of humiliation & losing the propaganda fight) is of limited value.

The full tactical, logistical & strategic value or otherwise of this action will only make sense weeks, months & maybe a year down the line and only then will we be able to fully understand the reasons behind it.

One final thing to consider is how people would react if in the near future there was a successful direct strike on the dam by the Ukraine regime with ensuing mass flooding and no prior civilian evacuation and military withdrawal had been ordered.
The same amount of criticism would be levelled at the Russian command for not taking this obvious threat into account.

Posted by: FakeBelieve | Nov 10 2022 12:24 utc | 63


When looking at the list of weapons and ammo sent to Ukraine by the US and thinking about China invading Ukraine, I don't see much overlap. Also thinking about that list and trying to get it into Taiwan when China has started an invasion, how would that work?

For example, any 155mm guns or ammo is going to have to be in Taiwan before the war starts. And those aren't the weapons Taiwan really needs many of.

Posted by: Bill Smith | Nov 10 2022 12:24 utc | 64

Citizens of Kherson who voted to become Russians are now homeless.
What about the red lines Mr Putin ?

Posted by: Abeille Flandres | Nov 10 2022 12:27 utc | 65

The outcome of this conflict will decide not just the fate of the Russia, but the fate of the entire world. Russia cannot win this conflict unless NATO is afraid of it, but the Russians have bent over backwards to make NATO unafraid. A strike on the British embassy in Kiev would be a good start.

Posted by: Donbass Lives Matter | Nov 10 2022 12:27 utc | 66

Saving personnel and equipment is far more important in war than "optics." All this handwringing over a tactical retreat is just noise; Kherson was a potential catastrophe if those troops stayed, and so they were withdrawn.

I strongly doubt the Russian public will withdraw its overwhelming support for this war because of a setback. Anyone familiar with the most basic military history can recognize this retreat means nothing except that Russia has withdrawn to a FAR more strongly fortified position. The river is now something the Ukrainians must cross, and RAF has destroyed nearly all the bridges. RAF still has air superiority, and continues to mass troops from its recent mobilization.

No advance for either side is currently possible during this rainy season. This is a lull in the fighting, so why risk losing highly trained, well-blooded troops--and their equipment--to a sustained attack following the destruction of a dam?

This was a good and necessary call.

Winter is coming, at which time Russia will have amassed a force of some 450,000 seasoned veterans across the entire line all supplied with the latest weaponry. Russia continues to make significant advances, these last few days, in Donetsk.

@Zanon, 33

>> 100,000 Russian military casualties in Ukraine: US general

This would be the same Anonymous US Military source who's telling us Ukraine is "winning" the war, even now, after Russia has shut off the electricity and eliminated 1000s of foreign mercenaries?


Posted by: Pacifica_Advocate | Nov 10 2022 12:29 utc | 67

[65] Make that China invading Taiwan.

Posted by: Bill Smith | Nov 10 2022 12:30 utc | 68

I love MoA and read it daily. That being said, the website needs two improvements:

1. Responsive HTML: I'm getting old and can't for the life of me read this site on mobile. A responsive HTML site would make everything so much more legible.

2. Threaded comment section. Someone posts something, please allow us to reply to that message and read all replies. And if someone doesn't like that layout, allow them to read comments in "flat" mode. The idea of a comment section is to exchange ideas, to communicate. Please help us achieve this better by improving the UI/UX.


Posted by: Melkiades | Nov 10 2022 12:33 utc | 69

If Russia pulls back from Kherson, and Ukraine occupies the city with a marginal force, and transfers the bulk of its current assault force to other lines, how quickly could Ukraine bring them back in the dead of winter?

Once the rivers freeze, Russia could move forces across them wherever they chose, and with their tracked vehicles surround Kherson.

Could the Ukrainian forces counter that faster than the Russian army could move? Would their military, in trying to move back to Kherson, be much better targets than they are now? Can Russia destroy the Ukrainian rail system after the AFU moved away from Kherson, assuming they did move the bulk of their forces away after Russian forces left it?

What are the limiting factors here? Ukraine was able to move a huge army against Kherson, but could it repeat that feat in the Winter, with a foot of snow on the ground? Without the rails, would it have enough tracked vehicles, and the fuel for them, and the ability to suppress Russian aerial attacks as their forces moved about?

How quickly is Russia's ability to move in a large force increasing, and how much new artillery and rocketry are they bringing in to the battle? Could they turn Kherson into a death trap once they reach peak strength? Could Ukrainian forces camped in Kherson be starved and frozen by destroying the supply chain they'd need?

Will Russia gut Kherson of all of its amenities for heating and electricity as they evacuate it? Would they blow out roofs and windows, destroy the water pipes and the sewer system?

Posted by: Babel-17 | Nov 10 2022 12:34 utc | 70

Pepe Escobar 30 mins ago

There IS a deal between Sullivan and Patrushev.

We don't REALLY know the details.

But yes - it includes Kherson.

I'll believe it when I see it.

A few days ago Escobar was claiming a big peace plan being rolled out by Scholz and Xi - mid-wifed by German industrialists.

Now it's Turkey and the Saudis. The movers and shakers of global peace dealing (apparently.)

Posted by: SeanAU | Nov 10 2022 12:37 utc | 71

Biswapriya Purkayast | Nov 10 2022 12:18 utc | 55

Right through that war, Soviet forces suffered far higher losses than the Germans.

In the SMO the attrition ratio is 7-1 or better in Russia's favor. What you advocate would give Ukraine the upper hand in attrition ratio.

Russia has no interest in using its people as cannon fodder.

Going by the comments on Kherson, there is enough key board cowboys here to defend Kherson if they got off their butts and headed over. Though I guess that would be situation of all chiefs and no Indians.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 12:38 utc | 72

@oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 11:14 utc | 12

The dam may already be structurally damaged and at risk of failure (with a nudge) in the future.

Who could say, if it broke and flooded the west bank city area (with or without Ukrainians occupying it), that it was not their own efforts that caused it etc?

Looks more like a ghost town scenario until after the war ends, imo.
So, why waste military assets on something that is basically also naturally denied to the other side?

Posted by: imo | Nov 10 2022 12:38 utc | 73

FakeBelieve | Nov 10 2022 12:24 utc | 64

"Surely the mass evacuation & withdrawal from Kherson illuminates just how seriously the Russians take the possibility of a successful direct hit on the dam and until this threat can be eliminated, their actions make total sense."

On the contrary, the baffling Russian negligence and failure to secure the approaches to the dam over the course of all these months illuminates their utter lack of seriousness.

And of course if the Russians were serious about the war they'd find a way to hang on to the bridgehead even if the dam was blown. Besides, I keep hearing they drained off most of the water. Well, did they or didn't they? Or is the water either there or not there depending on the propaganda needs of the moment?

As for your imputation of "tantrums & tears" to we who saw this coming, that's pure projection on the part of the Yes-trolls. On the contrary, it's they who from day one shrilly shrieked "troll!!!" at anyone with the slightest question or criticism of the conduct of the war and/or its surrounding diplomacy. That hardly speaks of confidence and calm assurance on the part of those who act that way.

Posted by: Flying Dutchman | Nov 10 2022 12:39 utc | 74

Morale requires that the next Russian move has to be big push with strategic significance. The concept of deep battle and deep operations should be reapplied. Historically it has nearly always worked to Russia's advantage.

Not going to happen. 300K only brings Russia up to numerical parity. Putin and Surovikin have reiterated their commitment to the "SMO" concept. Surovikin continues to speak about "grinding". Over the winter I expect Russia to bang their heads unsuccessfully against Ukrainian strongpoints in the east.

Posted by: Mike314159 | Nov 10 2022 12:43 utc | 75

The hard fact is … Ukraine is the poorest economically, but by far the most militarized nation in Europe (after Russia), backed by whole NATO satellites, intelligence, etc

Russians obviously initially underestimated amount of Russophobic brainwashing that went into Ukie’s brains and are realizing that they couldn’t finish the job in couple of months. West is all-in against Russia in Ukraine. It’s literally war against Russia and collective West, using fanatical Ukrainian proxy force.

Russia must wage this war brutally from now on, minimizing its losses in manpower and sustaining its economy. Not a simple task. That may need to include temporarily giving up some territories

IMO, objectives, going fwd, must be
1. Destroying Ukrainian power grid and communications … collapsing country’s economy to the point of no return
2. Cutting supplies of Western weapons from the West
3. Keep EU starved of energy and push it to the brink of economic collapse too

Posted by: Lungo | Nov 10 2022 12:43 utc | 76

It's just more evidence that I have been correct from the onset of this horribly executed SMO: Putin is not interested in winning the battlefield; he's only interested in having the battlefield. Whatever keeps the Ukies and (NATO's money) fully invested in this nonsense is the primary objective. Energy prices are going to get ugly soon.

Posted by: Tom SteChatte | Nov 10 2022 12:44 utc | 77

@39 Arne Hartmann | Nov 10 2022 11:59 utc | 39
I agree with your post. I was also surprised by the tenacity and determination of Ukrainians, willing to die for a corrupt regime in Kiev. They must really hate the Russians passionately.
After this third major Russian setback, I would not bet on any large vector moves etc. I think the Russians are settling down on a Line of Contact which will become the basis for a ceasefire. In the end, it's better for everyone.

Posted by: grippo | Nov 10 2022 12:46 utc | 78

Down South @ 53

Well thank you but you would have to show me in person and repeat the lesson 20 times. Hold my thumb down? This is an aging Mac Air with a trackpad. I can get a live looking 'hand' and hold it over any part of a post, press the trackpad for 30 seconds and nothing happens.

I broke down and got a smartphone back in April because my 3G was not supported. Text worked immediately. Took a month to be able to answer a phone call. Six months to be able to place a phone call reliably. Main problem was identifying and turning off features that wanted to run away from me every time I even came close to touching the phone. Tech people do not know how utterly opaque their technology is.

Posted by: oldhippie | Nov 10 2022 12:47 utc | 79

Bill Smith | Nov 10 2022 12:24 utc | 65

US done a large arms deal with Taiwan a few weeks back. I assume US wants to get Taiwan stocked up before they kick off the hostilities.

It constantly comes through that where US is very wary of getting into direct conflict with Russia, US does not have that reservation with China.

Russia's conventional military was born in the Great Patriotic war where the biggest battles in history were fought and its strategic forces the result of the cold war. China does not have that history, though US should remember the determination that saw the "mightiest fighting force in history" as it likes to term itself, driven away from it borders and driven back down the peninsular by peasants armed with little more than rifles.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2022 12:50 utc | 80

HIMARS is the real victor in Russia's forced retreat from Kherson. The precision weapon enabled Ukrainians to destroy Russia's supply lines across the Dnieper river. With a weakened supply line, Russia stood little chance of withstanding or overcoming Ukraine's numerical superiority along the Kherson front- at least not without the risk of a catastrophic defeat. The retreat is a bitter pill to swallow but the correct decision - especially when Nikolaev and Odessa are no longer realistic objectives. Question is whether Russia will now sue for peace or continue with the bigger plan. If it's the former, then it will be an admission that the SMO has fallen short and cannot secure all its objectives without a major and exhaustive escalation, one that Russia is not confident it can sustain materially and politically. But, equally, that Russia has secured enough of its key objectives to make peace the best option.

Posted by: Mart | Nov 10 2022 12:53 utc | 81

Lots of concern bunnies on today... some thoughts:

1. Kherson will be demolished by Russian air/arty once UKr/NATO forces occupy it.

2. Russians want the Donbas, that's their main point of effort.

3. Perhaps the Russians will pull the plug out of the dam and let the waters rise to protect their troops.


Posted by: MisterPete | Nov 10 2022 12:53 utc | 82

The stupid "grinding" tactic will not work. At a 10:1 KIA ratio, 1 million Ukrainian casualties means 100,000 Russian casualties. 2 million means 200,000. Is that supposed to be a victory for Russia? Moreover, the whole point of playing nice was supposed to demonstrate that Russia is fighting the NATO-backed Kiev regime rather than the Ukrainian people. Then why is Russia leaving the Kiev regime unscathed, to say nothing of the actual decision makers?

Posted by: Donbass Lives Matter | Nov 10 2022 12:57 utc | 83

"The world is moving away from a unilateral 'western' led model towards a new multilateral future. By waging war in Ukraine Russia initiated and accelerated this historic change. In sight of that the pullback from Kherson is just a minor tactical loss. It can and likely will be rectified by moves happening elsewhere."

The world is moving to a more multilateral future. This is being done through peace. Countries are rising and becoming more powerful and more modern on their own. The only BRIC country involved in a shooting war is Russia. None of the others are - and none of them are likely to be in the future (the Taiwan bluster is just that - China benefits from Taiwan enormously.) You think Beijing respects what Russia has done in Ukraine? To the Indians this blunder means cheaper oil for them. Within the US itself Iraq/Afghanistan means the US is unlikely to get in a shooting war.

Before this war Putin had been successful in expanding Russian influence. There was not great love for NATO in Europe or even in the US. He was the only one with relationships with all of the countries in the Middle East. He has now show this all to hell.

Just utter stupidity - born of the 19th century idea that land means power. In the modern world technology means power. Russia is not big enough on its own to wage a war with a collection of countries that have an economy multiples larger than Russia and which are vastly more modern than Russia. It would be different if the Chinesse came in and supported Russia with men and material. But they aren't. There are more worried about the CHIP market.

Posted by: No War | Nov 10 2022 13:01 utc | 84

I might be wrong, but I can't convince myself that the reason for this retreat is military rather than political.

I don't buy that the UAF have managed to get such a local superiority on the Kherson front as to be actually able to quickly overrun Russian positions that have been reinforced for more than two months now.

The fact that the Ukrainians are still wary of a possible trap is proof enough that they have a hard time believing the Russian version themselves.

In the last few weeks every single UAF attack on the Kherson front was soundly defeated with serious losses for the attackers.
The only success for the UAF was on the Dudchany direction and was obtained thanks to Izyum front-style raid tactics in a place where the Russian lines were seriously stretched.

To me, this decision appears to be motivated either by backroom deals or by a political risk-aversity that is seriously impairing the war-waging capability of the RuAF.

And I still keep thinking that the more fundamental question is: where the hell is the Russian Army?

Casualties alone cannot explain the lack of manpower that led to this series of military setbacks. The BBC has been sending journalists to Russian cemeteries to cross validate casualties data from social media with the number of actual new graves of Russian soldiers. Last time I checked, they confirmed a number of deaths very close to the figure of about 7000 released by the Russian MoD, and estimated that the actual number might be up to twice that figure. Even by adding the LDR and DPR casualties we would hardly cross the 25 thousand high mark.

And yet it looks like the Russians have a hard time even putting together enough troops to hold the line against an enemy whose ranks have been ravaged for 8 months.

So, what is happening? Are the assumptions wrong? And if they are not, where are the Russian soldiers?

Posted by: Leonardo | Nov 10 2022 13:03 utc | 85

a year from now ... only then will we be able to fully understand the reasons behind it.
FakeBelieve | Nov 10 2022 12:24 utc | 64

The reason behind abandoning Kherson is quite obvious and simple. The Russian military are not strong enough to hold it, protect it or defend it, the people or the military forces.

It's as simple as that. If Russia wasn't this weak across Ukraine no one would be speaking about Kherson today.

Given these basic facts on the ground, retreating after holding the city for nearly 9 months, is obviously the smart thing to do.

But acting rationally in the face of reality does not make it a Victory, nor Shoigu and Surovikin war time geniuses.

It is a military defeat. There is no point rationalizing it away or sugar-coating it.

Posted by: SeanAU | Nov 10 2022 13:06 utc | 86

@Xena 49. I saw it. If it is implemented then Putin has to be removed from office by all means necessary.

You know, considering the shit Russia's in it's not a bad deal. The west gets what it only gives a shit about, what gives it a hard on, a mountain of lucre to feed into its bubble machine, Russia gets out of its big fat mess. In the end the gas comes out of the ground it's not like Russians have to make it in sweat-shops. The Putin govt. could survive it if the oil and gas part is the only condition, blame dumped on the military, show trials and show purges. Fall on their swords ie, early retirement, nice dachas and good pensions.

Depends on the details, if it's just a tithe or vassalage. IOW dropping of sanctions, maybe on a timeline, and if they can keep selling their resources using two party contracts to the rest of the world. No interference in their military build up and sales. Seems like a difficult bargain to put together so quickly. If something like this does get rushed out it would not be an indication of western strength and Russian weakness but the exhaustion of both. The plan was to break Russia, the west broke the critical facade that its economies were long bankrupt. UK went tits up a month ago, technical bankruptcy, mum's the word.

If Russia has learned their lesson flirting with neoliberalim they will restructure from an oligarch banana republic economy to a Chinese well structured Keynesian model and build a value added economy with broad income growth. Focused on capital invested from a growing Asia instead of declining austerity focused west plus the productive growth of rebuilding the cities of Novorossiya. Grow their economy (productively) at 5-7% a year 1945-75 EU/USA style. Over 20 years they could play such a deal in their favor and the west wouldn't see it coming for a long while.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Nov 10 2022 13:08 utc | 87

This is a long war. This has to be a long war, if Russia wants a victory over its adversary, i.e. NATO. A swift, but costly, victory over Ukraine would leave NATO with a lot of resources to spend. That would mean that NATO could still play the same game with some other country, and all this would start over again in some other place.

The KIA and WIA ratio is the result of two factors: difference in fire power and difference in medical care. Not only the fire power difference is high, but also the medical care on the Ukrainian side is deteriorating fast. That will further increase the losses ratio.

Posted by: SG | Nov 10 2022 13:10 utc | 88


I liked your comment on Martynovs site about how to deal with sociopaths.

You can't deal with them like rational actors. You either go berserk on them, remove yourself entirely from their presence, or surrender and beg for mercy.

(Third option is riskiest, as they are viciously cruel by nature)

Not sure what RF could do now, seems "Minsk III" is their current strategy. If that is the case then Sumy and Kharkov will be used as springboards to attack RF later.

This debacle shows again how corrosive neoliberalism is and how destructive the fall of the Soviet Union was.

The US Empire can afford to let its civilian infrastructure go to hell with corruption, turn its population into cowering zombies, but they never let Neo-liberalism touch their military power. Instead, they lavish it with funds.

Result: Total dominance in all fields (space, aerospace, high tech), only weakness is manpower - but they have brainwashed Ukrainians for that. Win-win.

Thus they are successful while Putin is begging his oligarch "allies" (actually they are sociopaths and gangsters who yearn to sell out Russia ASAP) to give him one more chance.

If he has any sense he would immediately empower the Communist Party leaders to reestablish the RSFSR with the assistance of the CP of China and other nations, and then resign.

Posted by: moaobserver | Nov 10 2022 13:10 utc | 89

Biswapriya Purkayast @ 59

@Xena 49. I saw it. If it is implemented then Putin has to be removed from office by all means necessary.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Nov 10 2022 13:11 utc | 90

Kek | Nov 10 2022 10:55 utc | 3

If there was going to be a winter offensive the Russians wouldn't have pulled back to south of the Dnieper. There isn't going to be any winter offensive.

Posted by: Roy | Nov 10 2022 13:11 utc | 91

USA has already lost. I live in the northeast USA. My heating bill has more than doubled and so has my electric bill. Forget about Europe. The USA is going to suffer a serious economic collapse this winter.

There will be no peace agreement.

Posted by: Kurt | Nov 10 2022 13:13 utc | 92

^^^ sheesh, sorry...
@88...the plan was to break Russia, the west broke the critical facade that its economies weren't long bankrupt. UK went tits up a month ago, technical bankruptcy, mum's the word.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Nov 10 2022 13:15 utc | 93

What so few people seem to realize is that Putin is showing the entire world just how cutthroat and untrustworthy the US-led "Collective West" actually is.

1) In December, Putin presented the US with a list of perfectly reasonable security demands which the US and EU simply ignored.

2) In Feb. Russia began its SMO--after pointedly declaring to the world that the US was refusing to guarantee it would not place intermediate range missile silos in Romania and Poland. Putin bluntly stated the SMO would improve the security of the entire region, +US.

3) Russia sought a negotiated solution in the early stage of the SMO. Ukrainian Nazis murdered the negotiator who brought back the compromise and Boris Johnson ordered Zelensky to withdraw from the talks.

4)Russia has continually reiterated it is open to negotiation.
5) Meanwhile, Russia has steadily ratcheted up its responses to every Western (US/uk) military intervention.

This is not just a war. It's a Russian demonstration-geometric proof--of just how cynical and inhumane the "collective West" truly is.

And this demonstration is winning a huge array of new part6bers and allies.

Russia is preparing a devastating offensive and taking its time doing so to allow all sane civilians to evacuate. That's what the Kherson evacuation and the "lights out" demonstrations were: a message to Ukrainian civilians.

The storm is being brewed.

Posted by: Pacifica_Advocate | Nov 10 2022 13:16 utc | 94

What if Russia´s withdrawal from Kherson is but a bait to lure the enemy into a trap?

Posted by: eduardo saxe | Nov 10 2022 13:20 utc | 95

In recent comments Surovikin essentially said ~1900 Russian troops were lost defending Kherson from Aug-Oct. Now they walk away.

Nato supplied HIMARS responsible for bridges damage, supply lines cross river attacks, and hitting the dam as well.

B says: "We need to look at the big picture."

Yes, let us do that. People in Kiev may not have electricity 24/7 but at least they still have their home and a bed to sleep in. Russians who used to live in Kherson do not. The Russians living in Donetsk are still being shelled after 9 very long years and after 9 very long months of a SMO.

Spin that anyway you wish.

Posted by: SeanAU | Nov 10 2022 13:27 utc | 96

Posted by: Jo | Nov 10 2022 12:23 utc | 63

If Escobar is right about this - and his sources are usually good - then this is the biggest mistake Russia could possibly make.

If any of this proves to be true, I wash my hands of the whole business and will forget about Russia being able to take on the collective West permanently. They will have demonstrated a lack of planning, will and simple common sense.

Well, it hasn't happened yet. So we will see. But I'm reminded once again while I despise most humans and all states. They're all morons.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Nov 10 2022 13:27 utc | 97

The Ukrainians do not enter Kherson; fearing a trap. Russia wins.

The Ukrainians do enter Kherson; they get attacked by ranged artillery and MLR fire. Their re supply suffers from the same problems Russia would have; a frozen swamp becomes impassable once it is bombed. Those people remaining in Kherson are Ukrainian loyalists and the rest of Ukraine will not take kindly if they are used as human shields. Russia wins again.

The Russians can rebuild the City in a much more defensible location.

Posted by: CitizenSmith | Nov 10 2022 13:38 utc | 98

this means Russia cannot cross rivers and hold.

What did it take - a dozen HIMARS truck to stop Russia? The Kherson area is a small front. Massive air power should have been able to stop large troop gatherings.

NATO can see clearly that Russian leadership lacks will. You do not fight a war and beg everyday "please negotiate with us". You force them to negotiate. The other side has already said a defeat for Ukraine will be a disaster (ie the end) for NATO. But Russia seems to dream on that they will be brothers again.

The only way out for Russia was to do an overwhelming strike and force the regime to surrender, and place a friendly regime in place.

Posted by: nothing but the trut | Nov 10 2022 13:38 utc | 99

SeanAU @ 97

In recent comments Surovikin essentially said ~1900 Russian troops were lost defending Kherson from Aug-Oct. Now they walk away.

How many men has the USA lost in wars in 70 years that it then just walked away from? ~60K just in Vietnam, and while less causalities the indifference has been ever more grotesque since then. War sucks, rulers suck, people get royally fucked, life goes on.

Posted by: LightYearsFromHome | Nov 10 2022 13:39 utc | 100

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