Russia on the run: Counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine advancing rapidly

Russia on the run: Counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine advancing rapidly. By Walter Finch.

The speed of advance … has sparked open talk in Moscow that their invasion will end in humiliating defeat. …

The Ukrainian advance has been so swift that fleeing Russian troops have left behind a logistics bonanza of ammunition, equipment and most of all seemingly fully-functioning heavy weapons, of the sort that Kyiv has been crying out for from its Western partners for months.

The offensive south of Kharkiv, which began last Tuesday, took the thinly defended Russian lines by surprise, leading to Western intelligence agencies speaking of mass retreats, mass surrenders and mass casualties that the Russian Ministry of Defence has dressed up as a ‘re-grouping.’ …

Russian military journalists yesterday reported that their troops fled Izyum on the only remaining road in another sign of the apparent rout …

Map from the Daily Mail

The capture of Kupyansk, if confirmed, is a huge setback for Putin that potentially leaves up to 10,000 Kremlin troops cut off from supplies. Abandoned boxes of ammunition in the town underlined the speed of their retreat.

The latest reports indicate that the town of Limán fell to Ukrainian liberators with little resistance.

It is located just 25 miles from the twin cities of Lysychnask and Severodonetsk that fell to Russian forces at the start of July after a long and grinding battle. …

Russian social-media channels published footage of traffic jams formed by cars fleeing the fighting, admitting they included panicking collaborators who feared reprisals from Ukrainian police or partisans. …

Moscow’s defence ministry published video footage that purported to show reinforcement troops rushing towards the Kharkiv region. But there is increasing dissent from prominent pro-war and nationalist figures, often with military links, who accuse defence chiefs of bungling the invasion.

These include the influential Igor Girkin, a former intelligence colonel involved in the pro-Russian separatist insurgency in Donbas eight years ago, who cited military sources in discussing the ‘outstanding audacity’ of Ukrainian attacks.

He has predicted the war will end with the ‘complete defeat’ of Russia.

How did this happen? By Henry Martin.

After seven months of repelling Russian offensives to a stalemate, what explains Ukraine’s sudden, tumultuous success on the attack?

It appears to be the product of a brilliant strategy concocted by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who organised the defence of Kyiv.

The first phase was to lure Russian troops to the southern Kherson region by announcing a forthcoming counteroffensive to recapture the regional capital.

‘[It] was a big special disinformation operation,’ said Taras Berezovets, press officer for the Bohun brigade of Ukraine’s special forces. ‘Meanwhile [our] guys in Kharkiv were given the best of western weapons, mostly American,’ he said. …

Once the Russians had massed around 30,000 troops around Kherson to ward off the counterattack, precision missiles took out the fixed bridges along the Russians’ rear over the Dnipro River, leaving them effectively stranded.

This left Russian lines in the Kharkiv region poorly defended and without many strategic reserves to plug any holes if the Ukrainians broke through, which they did.

The Ukrainians amassed tanks in the Kharkiv region, which Russian commanders took no notice of, and then launched a classic lightning attack to smash through Russian lines.

Lack of quality infantry is crippling the Russians:

But to really explain why the Russian lines collapsed so spectacularly, one has to look at the quality of the troops manning them.

It is reported that the lines around Kharkiv were defended by ‘slave soldiers’ forcibly conscripted within the breakaway DPR with very little will to fight.

These solders reportedly abandoned their posts and their equipment to flee, some apparently disguising themselves as civilians and the Ukrainian offensive becoming more of a manhunt.

There are reports of hundreds killed and thousands taken prisoner by the Ukrainians.

And finally, the Russian army has long been hollowed out by corruption at every level, which leaves its equipment unmaintained, its troops poorly equipped and morale at rock bottom.

Politically, this is highly troubling for Putin. It was optional, it’s his war, and it is failing — with high losses. As long as the Ukrainians don’t venture into Russia, the Russians probably won’t use nukes or mobilize. But Putin’s position is becoming tenuous.

One of the biggest military collapses in history? A rout?