I have to begin with an admission here: while hurricane Ian was a total disaster for most of Florida, hurricane Nicole came right on time to spare me from having to react to the mass idiocy surrounding the announced withdrawal of the Russian army from Kherson. In purely military terms, this was a no brainer and if you have not yet listened to Andrei Martyanov and Brian Berletic discussing this matter with Gonzalo Lira, please click here to listen to their conversation.
Also, please listen to Gonzalo Lira’s comments here (he makes perfectly good sense).
Big Serge also posted a good discussion here: https://bigserge.substack.com/p/surovkins-difficult-choice
Next, I want to offer a tentative nomenkulature of the folks I will be referring to. They are not a single, monolithic group, but rather a type of “PYSOP choir” with different voices. Here is how I see them:
- Paid for trolls and other US PSYOP talking point pushers: they are the real deal, folks who do that for a living. Let’s call them the “pros“. Some of them are AIs.
- People who, for whatever reason, hate Putin, Russia or both. For them, literally *any* event, decision, statement is immediately grabbed and used to “prove” that Putin is weak and indecisive, Russia is losing the war (and has been losing since day 1 and sooner rather than later the Almighty West will defeat Russia. Let’s call these the haters.
- Then there are those who are in purely for the money. They need to announce all sorts of major defeats, catastrophes, hidden conspiracies, etc. because that generates traffic and money. Let’s call these folks the clickbaiters.
- Next come the folks who do not have access to the information Putin, the Kremlin and the Russian general staff has, but who feel sufficiently informed (and educated) to explain to the world what the Russians should be doing instead of what they are actually doing. I call them the geniuses.
- Then they are those who, trained by Hollywood and Tom Clancy, simply *know* that the West is the shining and most advanced civilization in history and everything it produces, be a people or technology, is just so superior to anybody else’s that an eventual victory of the West against any foe or even coalition of foes is inevitable. I think we can call them racists (as in racial supremacy).
- Next we have those who really are trying to understand what is going on but simply lack the education/training/expertise to understand. These are the folks who recently smoothly transitioned from being armchair virologists/microbiologists/epidemiologists to armchair generals and marshals. These folks have an opinion on everything, and having that opinion on everything give them this warm feeling of being the real experts. So let’s call them that, the experts.
- Last, but not least, we have to also mention people with no applicable education/training and who are too stupid to realize that they are stupid. We can call them the imbeciles.
Of course, as soon as Surovikin announced that Russia will move her defenses in Kherson to the right bank and withdraw from the city all these folks instantly joined forces into one vociferous “PSYOPs choir” and flooded the Internet with their inanities (including our comments section, but most got intercepted).
Frankly, I have no desire or energy to debunk the idiocies this “PSYOPs choir” solemnly proclaims, but I do want to mention two things which might have been missed.
First, had the Russians NOT moved out of Kherson and had NATO blow up the Kahovka dam and flooded the city, the result would look something like this (I got that image from Andrei Martyanov’s blog):
The Russians have not announced how many soldiers they had in Kherson, but the Ukronazis said 20’000. Okay, let’s run with that and assume that 20’000 soldiers would cut off from the rest of the Russian forces and only resupplied with great difficulty. Next, let’s assume that the (much larger) NATO force would have moved into the city. Can you imagine the optics? Hundreds of Russian POWs, many more dead, KIA, MIA and, finally, the “proof” that Russia is (and always was!) losing.
I can absolutely guarantee you that pros, haters, clickbaiters, geniuses, racists, experts and imbeciles would all join forces in a loud “musical forte” and scream from the top of their lungs that “aha! see! we were right all along!!!“.
The second thing I need to address is what I believe is an analytical mistake by Bernhard on Moon of Alabama. He wrote that “This move is operationally sound” and yet he added “Strategically the move is bad“. We could wonder how a move could be operationally sound but strategically bad, but let’s not even go there. Bernhard’s argument is that “It closes for now the possibility of moving into Nikolaev (Mykolaiv) and further towards Odessa“. The problem here is that when we look at a map of the region we realize something very important: there are plenty of streams and rivers which flow north to south and which flow into the Black Sea. See here:
So any move along the coastline would imply having to get across quite a few rivers. Is this possible? Yes, absolutely. But is that the best option? I am not so sure at all. I will simply say that this is the option the Ukronazis and NATO have been preparing for.
Another option might be to move not West but North and then turn West to basically take all the NATO defenses around the Black Sea coastline from behind. Did I mention that there is now a joint Russian-Belarussian force deployed in Belarus which seems to worry NATO a lot and which could be used to pin down NATO forces near and north of Kiev?
Is that what the Russians are planning? I don’t know. All I know is that it is wrong to assume that the only way to get to Odessa is by fighting along the coastline.
Last, but not least, there is the (inevitable) rumor of a deal having been made between Putin and… … huh… well… somebody in the West (who? Brandon? Sunak? Macron?). Now that is pure, unadulterated bullshit which only true doubleplusgoodshiteaters could swallow (though clickbaiters will use it to get their clicks and visibility!). Russia and the West have been locked into an existential war for survival since AT LEAST 2013 and we are very close to a possible nuclear war, but some folks still think that Putin works for the US, the WEF, Klaus Schwab, Bibi Netanuyahu. etc. etc. etc. My position on that is simple: anybody seriously believing this crap is not worth talking to, you would have better success arguing with a door knob. I sure won’t bother with them.
I would also note that IF a real behind-the-scenes deal was made, the chances of Putin finalizing that deal with Western leaders at the G20 would be a perfect opportunity to finalize a deal. Yet, in reality, Putin is not even going to attend. Reach your own conclusions.
It is particularly comical, in a sad way, to hear US “experts” offering their precious insights and advice as to what the Russians should do next. Considering that the US never won a real war since WWII, while the Russian General Staff is older than the USA as a nation, only a crass ignorance of history could embolden these hyper-losers to give advice to the Russian hyper-winners, if you wish :-)
And while Russia did lose quite a few battles and even campaigns in her history, at the end she always defeated all her enemies. Yet the Anglos are still out there preaching to Russia.
Speaking of Anglos, I heard a funny factoid the other day: the entire British military could fit inside the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Puny Britain indeed…
Anyways, these are the folks who have lost control of their empire and who are now losing control of their own country but, rather than try to fix their own ugly mess, they are still out there preaching to the Kremlin how to fight a war.
Truly, sic transit gloria mundi…
Conclusion: is the Kherson withdrawal some kind of disaster?
Not in the least. It was a planned moved and it was well executed. Please keep in mind that the issue of Kherson was always known to the Kremlin, yet they did allow the referendums to go ahead and now Kherson is legally part of Russia. So while the Russians did withdraw (most) of their forces from the right bank of the river, that in no way changes the legal status of the city or its people. There is a French saying which goes “you have to give time to time” and this is what I suggest. Let’s see what happens to Kherson and the rest of the theater of operations in the next 2-3 months. And, maybe, in hindsight it will all become clear.
Still, it is undeniable that the Russian social media literally exploded with fear, uncertainty and doubts (FUD) and there is now a growing segment of the population which a) does not understand what is going on b) is listening to all the FUD on the Russian Internet and c) which still has not understood the simple fact that Russia is at war. A war every bit as real, and crucial, as WWI or WWII were. However, the longer this war lasts, the more polarized the Russian society becomes and, as I have mentioned it in the past, I welcome this polarization because it shows the real “who’s with whom” here. And there will be hell to pay down the road for folks like, say, Dugin, who are now committing actions which would have them shot for treason during WWII. Well, at least now I hope that the “Dugin is Putin’s advisor” canard has been finally buried. And NOW you know why I never posted a single article by Dugin or even mentioned him. I saw him for the fake he is a long long time ago.
So for the time being, let’s just ignore the usual choir of pros, haters, clickbaiters, geniuses, racists, experts and imbeciles and let them enjoy their 5 mins of fame before their entire mental edifice comes tumbling down, destroyed by reality and facts on the ground.