This is a republication of a post authored by Andrew Korybko, which was first published in OnePress. It has been adapted with full permission obtained from the author.
Russian and Allied forces are presently carrying out a tactical pullback from the Kharkov Region in the face of Kiev’s NATO-backed counteroffensive there, which has been much more successful on the ground than the failed Kherson one that immediately preceded it. The author shared his thoughts about this development in his piece titled “Kharkov: What’s Driving The Latest Military Dynamics & What Might Come Next?”, which answers those two questions and then concludes with some general observations about the Ukrainian Conflict.
The present piece approaches the topic from a different perspective by sharing constructive critiques connected to Russia’s tactical pullback, the purpose being to break through some of the groupthink and shatter the related myths pushed by the multipolar quarters of the Alt-Media Community (AMC). President Putin cautioned members of his military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) against indulging in wishful thinking in late June, so it’s important to promote that pragmatic cause through a well-intended effort to objectively assess what Russia could have done differently.
Narratives from the AMC
To begin with, here are the top narratives from the AMC that are discredited by the latest events:
Kiev’s Military Forces Have Long Been Crushed
Quite obviously, while Ukrainian presidential advisor Alexey Arestovich admitted in late March that Russia had already by then “practically destroyed our defence industry”, Kiev has since been able to bounce back enough with NATO’s military help to make on-the-ground progress around Kharkov.
Russia Destroyed All Arriving Western Weapons
Building upon the above, it’s obvious that Russia hasn’t destroyed all arriving Western weapons since enough have made it to the front lines to successfully re-equip Kiev’s forces to the point of enabling them to launch their ongoing counteroffensive in the northeast.
Moscow Dominates All Dimensions Of The Battlespace
Upon one taking the two preceding narratives for granted, they naturally begin to assume that Moscow dominates all dimensions of the battlespace, though that’s clearly not the case otherwise it wouldn’t be engaging in such a rapid tactical pullback unlike any that it’s undertaken thus far in the conflict.
The Latest Tactical Pullback Is To Create A Cauldron For Kiev
The ways in which the present tactical pullback is being carried out very strongly suggest that it’s not part of a preplanned maneuver for encircling Kiev’s forces in a cauldron, and believing that every physical step backward in a conflict by one’s side is a “5D chess” move is unrealistic anyhow.
Russia Is Always Winning No Matter What
No entity in this world is perfect and nothing ever always goes according to plan, with it indeed being the case that Russia just like any other international actor (especially Kiev, the US, NATO, and the Collective West in this context) sometimes suffers setbacks despite sincerely striving to achieve its goals.
The next part of the analysis will concisely describe the reality behind those discredited narratives:
NATO Has Successfully Restored Some Of Kiev’s Military Capabilities
Precisely because the latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict has veritably become an unprecedented proxy war between NATO and Russia, that US-led bloc has done its utmost to successfully restore some of its proxies’ military capabilities despite Moscow’s destruction of its related industrial complex.
The West’s “Rat Lines” Largely Remain Intact
Despite Russia’s best efforts to destroy them, the West’s military-logistics corridors to their Ukrainian proxies that Politico described in April as “rat lines” have largely remained intact and thus function as Kiev’s lifelines for keeping the conflict going for over half a year already.None Of The Conflicting Parties Exert Military Dominance
Neither Russia, Kiev, nor the latter’s NATO allies exert military dominance, with the first’s lack of such status not being surprising considering the many states that it’s fighting by proxy while that US-led bloc’s failure to achieve the same suggests that Moscow’s defensive capability is stronger than they thought.
The Pace, Scale, & Timing Of Russia’s Latest Moves Suggest Surprise
The abovementioned three factors associated with the ongoing tactical pullback from Kharkov Region very strongly suggest that Russia, its Donbass allies, and especially civilians were truly surprised by the latest military dynamics and that there’s no “5D chess” plan at play.
This Tactical Pullback Is Almost Certainly An Unexpected Setback
The preceding reality check leads to the likely conclusion that the described process is unfolding due to external pressure and thus wasn’t voluntarily initiated by Russia unlike its earlier such tactical pullbacks from northern Ukraine and Snake Island, which would therefore make it an unexpected setback.
With these bitter truths in mind, here are their possibly impending consequences:
Kiev Will Keep Fighting Until The West Turns Off The Military Tap
There’s no doubt that Kiev’s forces are kept going solely by Western military support, but the fact that foreign aid has already resulted in them restoring enough of their capabilities to launch the latest counteroffensive with some on-the-ground success suggests that this proxy war will continue.
The West Is Expected To Pump More & Better Arms Into Ukraine
Unless Kiev’s counteroffensive ends in its crushing defeat by Russia or Moscow successfully does something asymmetrical to reshape the conflict’s dynamics, it’s expected that the West will feel emboldened even by a stalemate around Kharkov to pump more and better arms into Ukraine.
Regaining Lost Ground Will Remain Difficult For Russia
Russia will find it difficult to regain lost ground considering the practical military parity between itself and Kiev due to the latter’s robust support from many NATO states, which means that the present setback probably won’t be reversed anytime soon absent a major (and possibly prolonged) battle.
Reprisals Against Russian-Friendly Locals Are Likely
Kiev will likely carry out a vicious anti-Russian witch hunt in full coordination with its NATO patrons against all those locals that hadn’t been able to flee from the swiftly recaptured territories, which could lead to widescale human rights abuses that the West would predictably deny despite possible evidence.
Russia Must Either Accept The Reality Around Kharkov Or Change It
There are only two ways forward for Russia around Kharkov:
- Accept the reality of the unexpected setback that it just experienced for the reasons that were earlier explained.
- Actively work to change this reality by preparing to fight a major and possibly prolonged battle to regain its lost ground.
To wrap it all up, the author would like to remind the reader of the reason why he published these constructive critiques connected to Russia’s tactical pullback from Kharkov. The rapidly evolving events around that region have compellingly discredited the prevailing interpretation of the Ukrainian Conflict that’s hitherto been pushed by the multipolar quarters of the AMC. Considering all that’s transpired over just the past few days, it’s now time for key influencers to reassess a lot of what they’d taken for granted if they sincerely aspire to obtain as objective an understanding of everything as possible.
Just like in the introduction, it’s pertinent in the conclusion to recall President Putin’s caution about indulging in wishful thinking so that everyone can dwell upon it as their final impression. Not only have the siren songs associated with that mindset infected the AMC, but they’ve also arguably influenced some members of the Russian “deep state” who are responsible for their country’s special military operation in Ukraine. If there’s any silver lining to this setback, it’s that those officials will learn from this reality check, correct their false perceptions, and accordingly formulate more effective policies.