Kherson Humiliation: Ukraine Schools Russia in Effectiveness of War on Bridges

A war that Russia inexplicably omitted to wage

Earlier today Shoigu and Surovikin announced the start of a complete military withdrawal from Kherson on Russian state TV.

Surovikin explained the retreat back across the river was necessary because the force across the river could not be kept in a state of supply.

That’s quite “funny” in a certain way.

If there are two things that I have been constantly harping on since spring is that Russia is committing a grave unforced error in not using conscripts and in not targeting the Dnieper bridges.

The problem of insufficient mass has since been partly addressed in a different way, by calling up mobiki, leaving the omission to target Dnieper crossings as the last inexplicable Russian sin against rudimentary war logic.

Ukraine did not make the same omission and will now get Kherson back as a reward without even having to capture it trench by trench.

What is interesting is that Ukraine had much poorer tools to wage a campaign against crossings. All Ukraine had for the job is HIMARS with its small 90-kg warheads.

Actually, Ukraine was never even able to destroy the crossings merely to damage them. It repeatedly severed the rail link over the Nova Kakhovka dam but could never take out the road over it. (The one time it was successful in severing the road over the dam lock, the Russians simply filled the lock with material then drove over that.)

Similarly in Kherson it merely damaged the bridge but couldn’t destroy it, nor the pontoon that was built underneath.

Yet even just damaging the crossings, lowering their throughput, turned out to be enough for a victory.

Only now we have learned the full extent of the supply issues the Russians had been dealing with beyond the river. The war correspondent Semen Pegov (WarGonzo) now reveals the Russians had been dealing with “shell hunger” and Kadyrov says the area didn’t have a “stable regular supply of ammunition”.

Russian supply lines ran across the water only for their Kherson corps, and the Ukrainians immediately took advantage of that. For Ukrainians the vast majority of their supply lines have to cross the very same body of water in the other direction and the Russians have never even attempted to stress them.

This despite having far better tools for the job like heavy-duty Iskander ballistic missiles, and despite having expended over 4000 of various guided missiles on various other targets.

This is bewildering.

The Ukrainians started the bridge war as soon as they got a tool for it. One that wasn’t even particularly well-suited for the job. One that wasn’t even capable of destroying the crossings but merely of degrading them.

And it worked! And they now have a great victory to show for it as the Russians humiliatingly retreat from a city they had just supposedly annexed.

But the Russians, despite having much better tools for the job available since the start, have in 8 months not even got going. Despite facing opposition whose supply lines are bridge-reliant for almost the entire length of the front! Yes, the Ukrainians have more crossings, but they’re also having to feed far more forces to the east of the river than the Russians ever had to to the west of it.

And this is not hindsight.

I have been screaming from the rooftops how weird it is that Russia won’t go after crossings for over half a year now. You have a battlefield defined by the fact it is split into two halves by the presence of a mega river (actually more of a system of grand artificial lakes rather than a mere river) and you have Russia trying hard not to notice this. You’re looking at opposition whose railways can cross the river in just six (!) places and you’re not doing anything with this. This despite waging a “strategic” war of sorts against transport in general and rail in particular, just not against this obvious bottleneck.

Look, unlike some other writers I have never tried to big myself up as some kind of grand “military expert” or some VeRy sErIoUs “military analyst”. On the contrary, I categorically deny being any sort of expert on this stuff.

My shtick has never been “hey look at me, what fancy strategies I am able to come up with because I’m so smart and I know so much”.

On the contrary, my point has always been the exact opposite. My point has always been: “I don’t know anything about this stuff but the basics of the basics — so why is it that even I am able to identify so many and so glaring blunders?”

I am no great general. I am just a machinist who read a few dozen war histories and maybe listened to a similar number. If you are running a war in a way that is merely semi-competent I shouldn’t be able to critique it at all, because any advanced stuff you are doing wrong will be over my head anyway.

But if you’re running a war and I actually am able to spot one blunder after another, well that means that you’re committing the most rookie, the most basic, the most bizarre, the most nonsensical errors — because those are the only ones that as a history-buff machinist I am capable of spotting.

I’m not Marshall Zhukov but I know idiocy when I see it.

Stuff like “Let’s invade a country the size of France without conscripts in a headless mad dash with tiny unsupported detachments dispersed over six different axes, not mobilize until 7 months into it and completely ignore the just 6 railway crossings over the large geographical obstacle that bisects the entire theater.”

The reason I am able to identify this as a blunder isn’t because I’m so smart but because this is total moronism.

It has been 20 years but I’m somewhat sure that when I dragged my classmates to the MoD library so that I could get my hands on Guderian’s Achtung – Panzer! the book didn’t say “try to get away with activating as small a force as possible and then dilute it into numerous unsupported directions”.

In fact, I’m pretty sure Mr. Heinz insisted one must “Hit with your fist, not with your fingers spread” and “Smash, don’t splash”.

But the thing is, this shouldn’t be happening. Some blogger who read a little Guderian 20 years ago and promptly forgot everything but two funky quotes shouldn’t keep getting validated that he is more farsighted than the Russian military machine.

They can’t possibly be this stupid. It’s not possible. Somebody else is running the war for them. Or put better, someone else is defining constraints for them within which they must operate and this someone has absolutely no clue about wars. Not even so much as a machinist-blogger.

(Not that it’s preventing a certain crowd from selling this pure politically-dictated moronism as solid military 5D gold.)


Some stuff where I was wondering why won’t Russia go after the bridges:


Some stuff where I was pointing out the dispersion problem (addressed with the Kiev withdrawal):


Some stuff where I was pointing out even weirder early head-scratchers like the mad-dashing (mostly gradually addressed over the initial few weeks):

  1. Yuno says

    “This is bewildering”

    apparently “blinders” are now a required piece of equipage for anyone wishing to discuss the {fully scripted} “events” of the day. Are we really supposed to take at face value the guile-filled mewling of Kadyrov & Ko as the “why” of it all? THAT is indeed ‘bewildering.’

    Shell hunger huh? Get out the etchasketch and simply ‘erase’ the impending doom signaled by the Ukie fire control over the vital supply line hundreds of kilometers to the EAST! Hey Gang! If you try really really hard… you can NOT SEE the strings attached to ALL the puppets in this performance.

    Altho all vital questions receive their answers in the form of a two word phrase – GREATER PODOLIA – the new/old empire of the shetl kings, the audience must play it’s part in this farce. Let’s pretend that the “police action/war game” is really real… and that the jerky, Gumby-like movement of the character actors employed are really the fluid motions of …. he he heh… ‘real people with real ‘agency’ rushing about in the pursuit of ‘human action.’

    You can questions the quality of the actors’ performance … but you cannot question the ‘reality’ of the script huh? Ok – got it!

    Back to ‘bewildered’ it is.

  2. Blackledge says

    “My shtick has never been ‘hey look at me, what fancy strategies I am able to come up with because I’m so smart and I know so much.'”

    You just described Karl Denninger. Admittedly a bright man but one who sincerely believes he’s “the smartest guy in EVERY room” and the only soul on Earth capable of understanding how the world, works.

  3. Blackledge says

    “They can’t possibly be this stupid. It’s not possible. Somebody else is running the war for them. Or put better, someone else is defining constraints for them within which they must operate and this someone has absolutely no clue about wars.”

    THIS ^

    It’s the only explanation. But exactly WHO is this “somebody/someone?”

    1. Yuno says

      “WHO is this “somebody/someone?”

      a two word phrase – GREATE[REDACTED]

      whoooo. That was a close call ! Now back…. to the HOWDY DOODY SHOW!

      1. peterinanz says

        “It’s the only explanation.”
        Not really.
        “But exactly WHO is this “somebody/someone?”
        That another attempt to explain the “bewilderment” is “….SomeTHING else is running the war….”.

        Now, while it is true that somebody is rather overrepresented in that something, still, even if those somebodys got replaced, now with somebody else, the something will still stay in place. The constraints Marko is talking about would still be there.

        The problem is: that something is boring. Complicated too. Not fun in the infotainment sphere.

        Anyway, in any case, the future is pretty much certain, at least in medium term, in this debacle. RF will keep losing territory.
        The only, mildly interesting thing is, what’s next to lose? I believe it’ll be Melitopol.

        1. Oscar Peterson says

          “It’s the only explanation.”
          “Not really.”

          I agree. There is no one else.

          I was reading a piece saying that people are posing Miliukov’s famous question from 1916: “What is it–stupidity or treason?”

          1. peterinanz says

            “What is it–stupidity or treason?”
            The main problem people inclined to Russian side in this thing have is believing that the regime in Kremlin cares about Russia. As long as they keep believing it, Marko included here, those questions will be popping up.

            For those knowing what the regime is, really, all about, it’s neither.
            They are smart enough to keep achieving their objective and they are loyal to their own group.

            They’ll keep sacrificing anybody and anything in Russia to keep themselves in their positions of power and wealth. Make of this what you will.

            1. Blackledge says

              As always, you make compelling points. Thanks very much for your posts.

    2. Dianthus says

      Here you go:

      The Committee of 300

      Here we learn how they think & operate and it is always NOT like it seems on the surface bc that is just for us to bite on, but is not the REAL reality of it all.

      Read the first 20-25 pages and then look outside again and this is from 30 years ago.

      A real 💎 if you ask me and we get so see how this world is really being run… most have no clue and the facts, happenings, persons, institutions, is all genuine so far I have researched it.


  4. tubby says

    MYSTERY: To either supply or retreat from west Kherson, the Russians should have many hundreds of small boats. This could easily be bought from China. I see no evidence of this. Why?

  5. Dianthus says

    “They can’t possibly be this stupid. It’s not possible. Somebody else is running the war for them. Or put better, someone else is defining constraints for them within which they must operate and this someone has absolutely no clue about wars. Not even so much as a machinist-blogger.”

    Simple: someone else (Cabal) is defining the constraints for them within which they must operate. Nothing more, nothing less because it is not about this war, but the global effects of it and that is the only point of it and that is the 1% against the 99% (us)

    All wars are….

    Best advice is to see the Big Picture and then begin to theorize where this war is good for. Give an example:

    Russia is for a while now in the pockets of the West (follow the money and so the investments that the west had done for over decades to Russia=clue) and what that this fake-war is just for China and to let see that Russia can not win whereby China will think harder then to go against the West and also to break up the BRICS bc China does not want losers in their team and when Russia/China splits… all the BRICS will go to then or enough chance that it will create some BRICS problems= good for the west + we here in EU will get a hard time soon and that is perfect for letting the CBDC’s come to out towns= win-win-win. Just a theorie of mine, but when we read:

    The Committee of 300

    Then we learn how they think & operate and it is always NOT like it seems on the surface bc that is just for us to bite on, but is not the REAL reality of it all.


  6. The seventh column says

    I Am curious now how the putinistas ( saker, martyanov, Orlov) will makeup the ” kherson retreat PIG” And turn it into the” wonderful 4d military victory MISS” Achieved by the great leader putain. Come on funboys…

  7. Oscar Peterson says

    It’s interesting that this comes down to one capability: HIMARS.

    The Russians are unable to target it or disrupt the “kill chain” that provides targeting information to the firing units. They can’t fly attack aircraft over the area because they can’t defeat Ukrainian air defense. They can’t figure out how to deal with the shoot and scoot tactics of the launchers.

    And even though its destructive power is limited, it is accurate and can pretty much take out any pontoon arrangement other than the one under the bridge.

    The logical response would seem to be to mass new units on the right bank and attack to push the HIMARS out of range of the bridges. But to do that you need massive logistics, which they can’t reliably get across.

    Amazing how the Russians got themselves into this jam.

    If they had had the 300K troops before the HIMARS were introduced, they might now be in at least a sustainable position on the right bank.

    And this on top of the 155th Marine Brigade letter-to-Putin episode.

    When will the Czar replace Nicolai Nicolaevich and take command at Stavka himself?

    I’m still wondering–more than ever now–how the mobilized troops are going to be employed?

  8. Jonathan says

    This blog’s doom and gloom character has always been about one man’s butt hurt ego being wounded by his detractors. What is happening in Kherson is good military strategy, nothing more.

    f and when Russian troops retreat to the left bank of the Dnieper in the Kherson region, their supply routes will become easier and they will re-establish defenses in depth. Any attempt by Ukrainian forces to cross the Dnieper will cost them an exorbitant price, CNN predicts.

    Russia will retain control over 60 percent of the Kherson region, including the coast of the Sea of Azov. As long as Russian troops control the left bank of the Dnieper, it will be difficult for Ukrainian forces to damage or destroy the canal that brings fresh water to Crimea.

    The priority of the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, seems to be the stabilization of Russia’s defensive lines after several difficult months. Thus, the main task of Russia in the Kherson region has been completed – the land corridor to the Crimea and the water supply channel are controlled, writes CNN.

    1. Yuno says

      Your dashing summation of the ‘situation of the moment’ has covered all the bases…. \except\ the reality of getting across to the east side! Rather bold – the assumption that CROSSING SUCCESSFULLY can be taken as a given, what what!

      “f and when Russian troops retreat to the left bank of the Dnieper in the Kherson region, their supply routes will become easier and they will re-establish defenses in depth”… appears to signal that there’s no ‘f’s &s or Butts aboot it…

      yet –

      Now that the Antonivsky bridge, the railway bridge, and likely some more to the north have been blown up, and AFU units are appearing on the outskirts of Kherson itself, it remains to be seen how the 20,000 something Rus soldiers left on the right side will be extracted. Sans equipment of course.

      I’m certain that the usual websites will be shortly announcing the next ‘secret weapon’ in the Russian arsenal which is going to set this sticky situation straight…. but in the mean while it seems perhaps a “bridge too far” to be predicting the ‘stabilization of Russia’s defensive lines’ …

      in particular with only 5-10 klics to go before the UA artillery has fire control over the railway line by which most supplies must come from the motherland after the Crimean Bridge debacle.

      Stiff upper lip? Definitely some stiffening in the works. More likely to be the bodies of more Slavic victims of this massive shetl king psyop, than the stiffening of a rather seriously drooping retreat line.

      1. peterinanz says

        If I may add:
        The war objective for Kremlin is retaining their power and wealth. Smart and ruthless people there.. Doing fine.
        The strategy is trading territory for time hoping that something will break within West. Smart and obedient people there. Doing fine.
        The operational art is retreating in a way which doesn’t create a lot of VISIBILE losses and perception of defeat. Very obedient people here, not quite smart, but, for the target audience (Russian plebs) doing fine. The product is just good enough to keep plebs within their comfort zone. For Russian/Orthodox soul it’s a rather wide one.
        On tactical level we see the true ….quality….of Russian state. But, the…beauty….of the reality there the people who lose their lives/limbs/sanity aren’t “boyars”, just serfs. Expendable fodder, as always with Russians; nothing changed from Middle Times.
        One more thing, on a pure “tech” level. People keep talking about “defensive LINE(s)”. That concept went out of commission with invention of mechanized warfare.
        Russians, apparently, have been building some fortification lines. Won’t work, will get broken in no time when NATO is ready. The people managing this, from the West, do know their job.
        Let’s do here some basics: a land defense is only as good as combined arms task force ready to counterattack. Keyword “combined”. And RF has proved, so far, that they are incapable of that. They simply don’t have such capability.
        To change that, to make it happen, the current regime in Kremlin won’t ever, do. If that regime got changed, tomorrow, with a proper one, it would take huge reform(s) of society and armed forces. Quite unlikely to happen.
        But, as you said: who cares, really. All is fine for people on top, everywhere. For the rest is getting worse, but not that bad. The only, true, losers here are average Russians, middle class in particular. And they can’t do anything about it.

  9. voza0db says

    C’mon MORONS… This is a NATO war, Ukraine is just the puppet being used. Without NATO there wouldn’t be any Ukraine left!

    Don’t pretend that Ukraine is some military powerhouse. You’re just making the same sad spectacle as the actor in office.

    Unfortunately Russians started this war playing stupid games around civilian herds and now they are paying the price for that stupidity. Which they seem to not be getting till this day.

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