Indian Express is almost triumphant in a front page headline today that “…Russia leaves Kharkiv.”
Others in Lutyens Media too would make us believe as if Ukraine is about to take over the Kremlin.
But we would let it go as its cheerleaders job to go skimpy.
Let’s look at the Ukraine situation closely. This map below, dated by two days, would help.
It would show significant advance by the Ukraine’s “million-soldiers army”, as Zelensky is fond of saying, through hundreds of miles towards Crimea-Donetsk-Luhansk belt where Russia has massed its men and weaponry.
The trouble is none of the bugle-blowers of West—our New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Reuters or their Indian cohoots — is bothering to tell us what Russia has meant all along by its operative term “defensive.”
Nor they are letting us look at the common history of Russia which sucked in the armies of Napoleon and Hitler, enmeshed them in a cobweb so to say, and stopped the unstoppables.
After months of impasse, we are suddenly seeing a surge of Ukrainian advance along hundreds of miles but one is overlooking a simple thread in this equation: That in doing so, Ukrainian forces are being drawn further and further away from their stronghold towards East and have opened their soldiers to a meat-grinder.
Ukraine has no air-power to shepherd its moving forces—not a comprehensive one anyway—but at the same time they are moving closer to Russia’s Close-Air-Support range. Sure, Ukraine has MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System) but they would be no better than target practice for Russia’s all-weather Mi-28, ironically named “Havoc” by none other than West or for that matter Sukhoi Su-25—NATO calls it FrogFoot—which was most recently seen in Syrian War. (Ukraine did shoot down a low-flying Su-25 a few days ago in Balakleya, Kharkiv—presently their bragging point—but only a fool would take it as a template).
So where else the triumphant moving Ukrainian army could get the cover? The truth is the further East they go, lesser would be the artillery support. Long-range artillery would be required which is not easy to summon all-around. Further, how do you engage in resupplies if you move away from the comfort of your rear which is stocked? And conversely, how do you deny the bigger firepower of Russians the more you move closer to them?
That old geography is also being overlooked in all this chest thumping. Unlike central Europe, which has a terrain and topological features where one could dug in in static defense, once you leave crowded cities in Ukraine, there is open steppe with a few rivers and forests which are pretty small. And what happens when winter descends and those forests are stripped off their greenery and vegetation? Target-practice for meat-grinders, nothing else.
The truth is, Ukraine is best served if they hide behind “human shield” of cities but once they leave this comfort, its walk into the death-trap.
Now the question is, why Ukraine is ignoring the obvious and why the West is doing nothing to knock sense in Zelensky’s head?
As we all know, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken visited Kiev a few days ago. Sure, something needed to be done to quieten the disquiet on the monstrous spend bleeding the United States into recession. Besides, president Joe Biden desperately needs a cheer in the fast-approaching midterm elections in the US. There has to be a trophy to justify the “black hole” in which West is being drained of its money and material.
Besides, Zelensky has every reason to fear a coup. He wants the discontent to fall in line and show to NATO how he has managed this tactical advance. But tactical advance or Russian retreat is a misnomer. It’s only a move on the chessboard which is not winning the war.
I could be wrong but I have a feeling Ukraine is being royally cooked in this cauldron. Its army is sacrificial lamb in this heinous and dangerous adventure. Zelensky would care little if it costs immense human lives. The Russian design, all along, has been to minimize its loss of men and civilians across the frontlines. One could replace weaponry but men once lost are lost. Russia would prefer the Ukrainian army to be out in open, even if it means retreat, as long as the enemy could be encircled and vaporised.
That’s what Russia arguably means with its Special Military Operation (SMO) and defensive goals. They are looking for “Taurian Lands”—Crimea, the northern Black Sea and the Azov Sea—secured in the next few weeks or months. Odessa is important for the contours of Novorossiya (the southern Ukraine) to be firmed up—not to say a solution to the Transnistria (the Moldova breakaway state) issue.
They haven’t waited for winter for nothing.
We are not told that Russia hasn’t yet brought out its mechanised and armoured forces. They are not letting us think why Russia hasn’t done anything to push back even as this Ukraine advance was well-known in advance. That this could be an ingenious Russian plan, a trap where they would concede terrain and pull in the Ukrainians into a web of mobile defenses.
Next few days would bring home the truth. Bridges would go up in smoke to leave the Ukrainians stranded. A massacre could happen which should make the entire humanity sad for this was a War which could have been so easily avoided on a negotiating table.