Optimism must be tempered with realism…and dread

Portrait of Victory!

Tragedy and waste, that’s all anyone will get out of the war in Ukraine. It seems to have entered a phase where exhausted, demoralized Russians get to run away.

In the end, the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals. Hours after Ukrainian soldiers poured into the area, hundreds of Russian soldiers encamped in this village were gone, many after their units abandoned them, leaving behind stunned residents to face the ruins of 28 weeks of occupation.

“They just dropped rifles on the ground,” Olena Matvienko said Sunday as she stood, still disoriented, in a village littered with ammo crates and torched vehicles, including a Russian tank loaded on a flatbed. The first investigators from Kharkiv had just pulled in to collect the bodies of civilians shot by Russians, some that have been lying exposed for months.

Russia has announced that they are regrouping in the face of the Ukrainian surge.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the north-east of the country has inflicted an extraordinary defeat on Moscow, prompting the Russian army to pull back thousands of troops after suffering a series of battlefield defeats.
Ukraine appears to have regained control of the two key cities of Kupiansk and Izium after a major counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in recent days, after wrongfooting Russian forces with a much-publicised Ukrainian southern offensive to distract Russia from the real one being prepared in the Kharkiv region.
Photos published by the Ukrainian security forces showed troops raising the national flag in Kupiansk, an important logistical hub for Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, where rail lines linking Russia to eastern Ukraine converge and which, in the last months, has supplied Russian forces in north-eastern Ukraine.

Nobody has won. Russia is spasming and continues to rain missiles on civilian targets. Ukraine has retaken narrow strips of land that were theirs to begin with. Putin must react savagely to this embarrassment; there are whisperings of discontent among the militaristic factions in his country, and he will be deposed if he loses his strongman reputation. I want Ukraine to win, to be honest, but let’s be willing to face the facts and see every bloody step forward as an action that will demand more blood.


  1. raven says

    I’ve posted this many times, originally from Ukraine.

    If the Russians lay down their arms, they go home, open a bottle of vodka, and see what is on TV.
    If the Ukrainians lay down their arms, they get genocided and disappear forever.

    For the Ukrainians, defending their existence isn’t a choice, it is something they have to do.

  2. TGAP Dad says

    I’m reminded of this part of Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot soliloquy:

    Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

  3. raven says

    It is clear that the Russian army command and control failed big time.
    Their officers weren’t there and had no idea what to do anyway.
    Probably, they decided it was too dangerous near the front and were a long ways behind the lines.

    I’m guessing that it is like the end of the Vietnam war for the Russian conscripts and contract soldiers.
    “Who wants to be the last American killed for absolutely nothing and no good reason.” We had already lost and a few dozen more dead soldiers would change nothing.

  4. leovigild says

    Ukraine has recaptured about 3000 square kilometers just in the northeast — not sure I’d call that a ‘narrow strip of land’. That’s bigger than the whole of Luxembourg.

  5. raven says

    It has to be said.

    When Trump was faced with a sudden crisis, which was the Covid-19 virus pandemic, he failed.
    Trump started out OK and immediately dropped the ball, incoherently flailing and getting in the way of the real experts fighting the pandemic.
    This contributed to the deaths of ca. 1.4 million Americans.

    When President Joe Biden was faced with a sudden crisis, which was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he succeeded.
    He warned Ukraine many times that an invasion was imminent. Managed to get NATO together (not easy getting 28 countries to cooperate) and added two more, Finland and Sweden. Most importantly, the EU, NATO, and the USA started feeding large amounts of money, advanced NATO arms, and expertise into Ukraine.
    It is too early to say how this Russian aggression will end.
    But so far, Ukraine still exists, Ukrainians still exist, and right now, they have a much larger and more powerful country on the run.

    I know which version of the USA I want to live in.
    I’m with President Joe Biden on this.

  6. microraptor says

    erik333 @7: Actually, that issue was resolved back in June and Sweden and Finland were officially made part of NATO July 5th.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    raven @ # 5: Trump started out OK …

    Huh? Trump’s first public reaction to the Covid-19 virus involved keeping a cruise liner from docking in the US so the infected passengers and crew would not officially show up in national stats.

    microraptor @ # 8: Raw Story reported yesterday that Kremlin officials are “in open revolt” against Putin.

    As usual, Raw Story got it wrong, even by their own reporting. That “revolt” involved resolutions passed by city councils of Moscow & St Petersburg neighborhoods/suburbs, not “Kremlin officials” at all (unless you somehow counted, say, Silver Spring, MD, as part of the US national government).

  8. StevoR says

    Trump started out as a Birther and a B-grade (if that) reality TV star. He was a bad political joke that then got elected & became serious and ended up getting ever worse. To the point where after losing an election he tried to get his own Veep lynched by an angry mob of his cultists and overthrow American Democracy.

    Putin OTOH, began as a KGB agent in former totalitartiarian Soviet Union and ended up as a wannae Tsar who repeated the mistakes of the USA in Vietnam albiet in, at least a much closer nation. Which is very small consolation indeed to those people Vlad the homophobic loser killed both in Ukraine and the Russian soldiers needlessly fighting a war of choice that should never have been fought at all invading a nation that posed Russia no real threat & could have been a metaphorical sibling but has now been permanenty (ish?) alienated from the Russian people and now has very good reason to hate and oppose Russia at every step and now has most the world’s sympathy and support in that.

  9. cag says

    Say what you will about Putin, just remember that he is an excellent recruiter – both Sweden and Finland.

  10. raven says

    raven @ # 5: Trump started out OK …

    Huh? Trump’s first public reaction to the Covid-19 virus involved keeping a cruise liner from docking in the US so the infected passengers and crew would not officially show up in national stats.

    Well, for Trump anyway.
    Yeah it is hard to believe he did anything competently.

    I’m referring here to Project Warp Speed, the vaccines.
    They were High Tech vaccines developed in a year, warp speed for medical research.
    And, they’ve worked well to slow down the ravages of Covid-19 virus.

    I’m vaccinated and boosted twice and have been exposed many times to the virus and never gotten it.
    My friends and family who were vaccinated and boosted mostly eventually got the virus. It was usually no big deal since they were vaccinated. My friend got it and she only knew because her husband got sick and she took one of the tests. Positive with no symptoms.

    My idiot antivaxx neighbor got it and died.
    His wife was vaccinated and nothing happened to her except that she is now a widow.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    raven @ # 13: I’m referring here to Project Warp Speed, the vaccines.

    Very little of the credit for which goes to Trump or the Trumpistas.

    Admittedly, the pharma corps did a good job, but the pipeline for the money which enabled that had already been built and used.

    Trump’s primary technical contribution involved learning a six-syllable word (“hydroxchloroquine”), which probably took him a while. At least sfawk, Trump didn’t arrange for any of the funding for vaccine development & distribution to stick to his fingers, but we probably owe that to the pharma execs pre-empting that payout for themselves.

  12. Timothy Hamilton says

    Cag’s remark (“Say what you will about Putin, just remember that he is an excellent recruiter – both Sweden and Finland”.) reminded me of a remark by Jimmy Carr, “There is one thing about Hitler, that he got right. He did kill Hitler”.

  13. JimB says

    There is a meme going around. A certificate of excellence or something like that. And it’s got Putin’s name on it. It’s for “Best NATO recruiter” or something similar. Made me chuckle.

  14. raven says

    There are many reports that the Russians are trying to negotiate a surrender agreement in the south around Kherson.
    I find this hard to believe but it’s been claimed by multiple sources.

    If they are that desperate, they really should just withdraw across the Dnipro river. Even if the bridges are down, there must be a lot of small boats in Kherson.
    Unless the Russian generals who are on the other side of he river haven’t given them orders to do so.

    If there are mass surrenders around Kherson, we might well be looking at the beginning of the end of the Russian invasion.

    The New Voice of Ukraine
    Russian units near Kherson negotiating surrender, Ukraine says
    Mon, September 12, 2022 at 4:11 AM·1 min read

    Some Russian units in Kherson Oblast are attempting to negotiate a surrender to Ukrainian troops
    Read also: Russia transfers 1,300 Kadyrov’s troops to Kherson Oblast

    “(They) are attempting to negotiate conditions of laying down arms, under the norms of international humanitarian law,” said Humeniuk.

    According to her, the commanders of these Russian units are looking to find ways to abandon their positions by any means available. This could include attempting to retreat to Russian back lines, or laying down their weapons.

    “The degree of creaking resolve and demoralization is so high, even the commanders now realize they don’t have anywhere to go,” Humeniuk added.

    Read also: Civilian casualties and delayed trains – Russia targets Ukraine’s power grid

    She said that enemy troops are aware of the major Ukrainian victory in Kharkiv Oblast.

    As their ability to cross the Dnipro River remains severely curtailed, Russian forces on the river’s western bank are forced to look for ways to extract themselves from the area – according to the spokesperson.

    Humeniuk noted that Ukrainian forces have penetrated several dozen kilometers into Russia-held territory in southern Ukraine.

  15. erik333 says

    No it wasn’t, each individual member state needs to ratify the treaty first. Turkey still expects the timely return of their victims to sign it.

  16. raven says

    Will Vernon @BBCWillVernon

    Moscow confirms Russian teachers in Ukr’s Kharkiv Region have been arrested by advancing Ukr forces. The teachers had been reportedly sent by Moscow to teach a Rus curriculum in schools in occupied Ukr territory. When Rus forces retreated, it seems the teachers were left behind.

    This is part of the Russian genocide plan.

    They sent in “teachers” from Russia to take over the schools and teach the Russian curriculum. It’s indoctrination of children to erase the Ukrainian language and culture.

    When the Russians retreated they left a huge amount behind; weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, personal belongings, and a lot of alive and dead Russian soldiers. They also forgot to collect their teachers. Typical.
    The Russians don’t care about their own people.

    Russian Gazeta:

    “Russian teachers didn’t work in Russian-controlled territories in the Kharkiv oblast. The fate of local teachers, who were ready to teach according to the new methods and were cooperating with Russia is unknown”

    Russia has already thrown them under the bus.
    These so called teachers are all from Russia.
    Many of them are there because they are Russian nationalists who think it is their duty to teach the natives the right language and culture.

    It’s not clear what will happen to them.
    They will probably be tried as civilian criminals and get a few years in prison.

  17. says

    Someone has won:

    Official: Ukrainian forces have liberated over 300 settlements in Kharkiv Oblast since Sept. 6.

    Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Sept. 13 that 3,800 square kilometers of Kharkiv Oblast had been liberated during Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive.

    “More than 150,000 of our people have been liberated from (Russian) occupation, during which they were, in fact, hostages,” Maliar said.

  18. whheydt says

    I saw a report that said that 125 pieces of Russian military equipment had been left behind and included 35 tanks, 4o armored personnel carriers, and 2 aircraft.

    One might well wonder if the Army of Ukraine will come out of this will more equipment than they had when they were attacked.