A Russian T-80BV tank abandoned in the streets of Balakliya, Kharkiv region, September 10 , 2022.
It’s been an astoundingfour dayssince Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in Kharkiv oblast that has utterly redrawn the map of Russia’s illegal invasion. On Wednesday, we called the advances that Ukraine made in a single day huge, as they encircled Balakliya and stretched toward that crossroads at Volokhiv Yar. The next day, we called the rapid advance to Shevchenkove daring, but worried about whether the narrow salient to the east might make Ukraine vulnerable. By Friday morning, it was clear the advance was incredible, with Ukrainian troops on the edge of Kupyansk. And then …
Like a tacky, cheap, vase hit by a really big hammer, the Russian occupation of the entire central portion of Kharkiv oblast just … fell apart. Everywhere, Ukrainian forces are moving, and everywhere Russian forces are running away before they even catch sight of a blue and yellow banner.
In a matter of 24 hours, Kupyansk was liberated, but before that news could even come through came word that Ukraine was knocking of the door of Izyum. Still more Ukrainian forces had crossed the Siverskyi Donets River to stroll into towns and cities that Russia hadn’t bothered to garrison. And even as the Russian forces fled from potential encirclement inside Izyum, the Ukrainian forces had turned east, and north, and south. Russia isn’t just retreating from Kharkiv, it’s waking up to a day in whichit has lost the war.
Honestly, that day probably came some time ago. As kos noted last week, Russia had clearly culminated—reached the point where attrition, overextension, and its own logistical and command failings made the Russians absolutely incapable of acting as a coherent military force. What did kos say then?
Historians will someday mark the day Russia officially culminated in its “special military operation,” and when they do, I suspect it’ll be this first week in September.
That’s pretty good prognosticating. Three days later, the Kharkiv counteroffensive began, punching through a brittle front line to discover a lot of … nothing, nothing at all, in the Russian backfield.
No. This war isn’t over. Unfortunately, the ego and sheer brutality of Vladimir Putin means that many more people, including thousands of Russians, will die between now and when the last gun is put down. But, as far as Russia’s plans go, it’s very definitelylost.
Russia can move the pieces around the board. It might even make some minor advance in one place or another. However, if it tries to take pieces away from the forces now holding Kherson or pinning down the south coast in order to shore up the Donbas, Ukraine will simply turn and take those areas. And the hell of it is … Ukraine is going to take those areas anyway.
Here’s our own David Nir, quoting today from his father’s memoirs.
That spring of 1944 was a full year before Germany surrendered in May of 1945. With autumn not far away, Ukraine may have to sit through a cold winter before its forces sweep the last rusted Russian tank out of Donetsk. Or, you know,not.Because I’d make a much bigger bet on the modern equipment that Ukraine now possesses powering through a January cold stretch than I would on the mish-mash, poorly maintained, corruption-riddled sweepings that Russia has left for their invasion.
This, this illegal, unprovoked invasion directed by a man who thought his army of brutal thugs was unstoppable, has already been a long war. It’s not ending today. But it willend with Russia in utter defeat. They will have nothing to show for all this cost, all this blood. Nothing but decades of international isolation in which to ponder the results of handing power to a bloodthirsty jackass.
Russia has lost the war. Now it’s just how miserable and drawn out they want to make the conclusion.
AND NOW IT’S TIME FOR … INTO THE MULTIVERSE, WITH TANKIES
Pro-Russian accounts are demonstrating their ability to spin at ultra-high speed in reaction to Russia’s collapse in Kharkiv. Strategic reserves of high tensile strength copium are being deployed to shore up an alternate reality that makes it clear … Russia may surrender, but pro-Russian tankies will never surrender to facts. There is always another universe where Russia is winning.
This one actually came from Friday, when every tankie account seemed to be singing, “just wait for tomorrow.”
The same account was still in full denial mode on Saturday, retweeting this gem.
That map was the previous-to-Izyum description of what was happening in Kharkiv. The whole thing was a plot, you see, in which Russia cleverly left a hole in the line to draw Ukrainian forces into a “killing field” where a “cauldron” of Russian special forces would destroy the entire Ukrainian army!
Also this …
The little bit about Ukrainian losses being heavy? That’s a chunk of pure copium that’s straight from that Russian video above. It feeds into thenewtankie justification for everything that has happened. Which is on it’s way to classifying everything that happened in Kharkiv oblast, including the six-months-in-the-making Izyum salient, as yet another feint. Just like the attack on Kyiv. Silly Ukrainians! All Russia has to do is sent tens of thousands of men into an area, and lose thousands of them along the way, and Ukraine gets distracted. Works every time.
But let’s continue. This one may be my absolute favorite for the day.
Yes, Ukraine really fell for it by … liberating over 3,000 square kilometers of territory, three major cities, and over 100 towns and villages. They are so screwed.
Wait. This one may be better.
Honestly, I could do this all day (HT to Caps). Also, sadly, Icoulddo this all day. Look upstream where, one day before Izyum, the “it’s all a trap” map got over 2,000 likes. There are a lot of tankie accounts out there, and at least 10% of them are not even getting a paycheck in rubles.
But every now and then, for just a moment, a tiny sniff of reality creeps in.
Don’t you worry about Ghost. He’s right back to shouting “Kherson is Russia!” in his posts. And I’m sure he still will be … long after the last Russian soldier departs from Kherson.
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 2:51:51 PM EDT · Mark Sumner Reports from Vovchansk indicate that the Russian garrison there came out of the city and negotiated terms of surrender. Multiple reports are stating that Ukraine is now in control of this major transportation hub that is sited just 7km from the Russian border, and less than 40km from Belgorod.
Honestly, if Russia can’t hold onto Vovchansk, a location that it knows is critical, right in its own backyard, what can it hold?
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 2:53:33 PM EDT · Mark Sumner Ukraine has reportedly secured the Donetsk airport. Note that this airport was one the western edge of the city, and had been under Ukrainian control until last month. Even so, this represents another major reversal for Russia on a day when it is being pushed back everywhere.
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 3:05:49 PM EDT · Mark Sumner There several things happening, including the military movements on the Moscow ring road, that are starting to make people feel like mobilization is around the corner. Under a mobilization, Russia would be able to conscript everyone in the reserves, including women, into active service. They would also be able to draft everyone in “civilian service” which, depending on how its defined, could be almost anyone.
Russia has never declared a full mobilization, and the law actually prohibits mobilization for a war outside of Russian territory. Which is part of why Russia has been so keen on declaring parts of Ukraine “Russia forever.”
Still, Putin may try to make do by pointing at the helicopter attack on a Belgorod fuel deport, or the explosion of an ammo supply near the border as a claim that “Russia is under attack.” How any of this will go over in Russia, is yet to be seen.
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 4:06:47 PM EDT · Mark Sumner All right … eventually I could not resist making a map. But I’ve compromised on this one in that I didn’t really try to alter the control over 100+ towns and villages, and I didn’t try to sort out the difference between what Ukraine “controls” and land that is still “in dispute.” Basically on this map, the blue area represents those parts of the counter offensive that Ukraine had liberated before mid day on Friday. The rest is either genuinely in dispute, or has been liberated since then — with no certainty that it has been garrisoned or secured. This includes a lot of small locations that were the front line of Russian control on Wednesday, and for which I simply haven’t been able to obtain good information.
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 4:21:34 PM EDT · Mark Sumner I purposely put Popasna on that map. Popasna fell to Russian forces in the first week of May, after putting up a valiant effort. Since then, for the last 127 days, Russia has been trying to reach Soledar, less than 20km to the west. They still haven’t made it.
Reports continue to stream in of confirmed and rumors Ukrainian advances. In Mark Sumner’s last update, he gave up trying to post an accurate map. There isn’t one that can keep up with Ukraine’s shockingly fast rate of advance. .........
Saturday, Sep 10, 2022 · 7:20:08 PM EDT · kos Remember the 3rd Army Corps? They were that unit of around 15,000 volunteers from all of Russia’s regions, that supposedly was going to help spearhead new Russian advances. Well …
That inverted triangle with the circle is the symbol of the 3rd Army Corps. They finally got sent somewhere, to Kupyansk, and the result seems inevitable—poorly trained, old, out-of-shape volunteers who signed up to escape Russia’s culture of microloan debt never stood a chance.