Surovikin Says Will Not Defend Kherson at All Costs

"We do not exclude making the most difficult decisions"

1. Surovikin’s televised address to the public was a welcome thing. It was much more level that the fanciful stuff the PR general Konashenkov emits into the ether, and far more revealing than the highly scripted Shoigu-Putin exchangesHopefully this becomes a regular thing and signals the end of the long-tabling of the Russian people.

2. Aside from being welcome, it is also probably necessary. If you are mobilizing the people then you also owe it something in return. Such as to put some truth on it as to what condition the front is really in.

3. Surovikin even touched on the ideological and political drive behind the war, on which he was succinct:

“Ukrainians and we are one people and we wish for Ukraine… to be a friendly state to Russia.”

That’s right. Nothing about “denazification” or “demilitarization”, just a ‘We’re one people, dammit!’

“We with Russia! One people!” — Billboard in Russian-controlled Kharkov

At the most fundamental — when all the pretenses for the low-IQ and the non-based are stripped away — the Kremlin’s SMO isn’t about biolabs, Donetsk, Kherson, Odessa, nazis, NATO rockets, Ukrainian shells, FSB roadside bombs, or the fanciful notion that Ukraine was about to commit national suicide and ground-attack Donbass. It isn’t about any of this small fry stuff. (Small fry to Kremlin.)

At the most fundamental, the SMO is about what Putin wrote in his revelatory 2021 essay — that Moscow has resolved that it will not live with an Anti-Russia being constructed out of a part of the Russian (Rus) people. In other words, it is about the entire Ukraine and its whole future.

4. The most immediately key part of the address was the part on Kherson. Surovikin said the situation was “difficult”, explained why, then said the first priority for him was preserving lives, including those of his men. And that in line with this priority he will not hesitate to make “the most difficult decisions” should the circumstances dictate it.

“Our future plans and actions regarding Kherson will depend on the situation at the time. In any case, we proceed from the need to maximize the preservation of the lives of the civilian population and the military. This is a priority for us. We will act consciously, at the right time, without excluding the most difficult decisions. “

That’s right. A different general (Zhukov, Grant) might have said his foremost priority was holding Kherson and that in light of that he will make any difficult decisions necessary.

Surovikin flipped this on its head and said that for him force preservation was primary and that he will make the tough calls to assure that.

In this context the meaning of “the most difficult decisions” Surovikin speaks of is clear — if things get really bad he will evacuate to the left-bank rather than allow his forces be cut off and lost.

Politically abandoning the right bank is extraordinarily iffy as it means losing the just-annexed regional capital. (The only regional capital Russia has captured in the entire war.) Technically speaking, it makes good sense. It’s a bad place for the Russians to be fighting in. They’re at a disadvantage since their supplies have to cross a river that is in HIMARS range. But more than that, with a mega river to their backs the stakes are just too high for them.

Just a short Ukrainian advance puts Ukrainian gun artillery in range of the bridges, and a longer advance threatens to cut off Russian retreat entirely.

The Russians have been obsessed with reinforcing Kherson (to the point of engineering a huge weakness in Kharkov that Ukrainians took advantage of) for very good reason. — Because failure here has the potential to cascade into a disaster that would make Kharkov look like a picnic. At least Kharkov had depth in the form of Lugansk that sparse Russian forces could flee to. But if the Kherson bridgehead ever had to fall back it would be doing so across only 2 bridges, that the Ukrainians would be shelling, and racing for themselves.

Kherson bridge after (many) HIMARS

5. It’s funny how horrible Surovikin’s delivery was. He is really not used to this. Perhaps that’s why the actual content was relatively decent — the guy hasn’t been doing public relations for long enough to be absolutely 100% shameless.

6. Another humorous thing was how Surovikin took time to put in kind words about the Aerospace Forces, talking up the Su-57 and the number of sorties, etc.

“– The special operation confirmed the effectiveness of both aviation systems and air defense systems in service.

– Crews have completed more than 34,000 sorties. More than 7,000 guided weapons have been used.

– Newer Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have proven to be good and reliable. None of the enemy’s air defense systems can withstand this missile.

– It is especially necessary to highlight the fifth-generation multifunctional aircraft Su-57.”

The Russian air force has been a big disappointment of the war. Even Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defenses have been sufficient to make it a non-entity that is not influencing the war. However in 2017 Surovikin was named the top Aerospace Forces commander. So he can’t exactly say that, can he.

Russia named the Army general Surovikin to command the air force to improve cooperation between services. And to ensure that the air force didn’t forget about its ground-support role (as air forces love to do).

Hasn’t exactly worked out, albeit not necessarily Surovikin’s fault. (The Soviets simply built good air defenses, what are you gonna do?)

  1. Oscar Peterson says

    So is this intended to be a permanent withdrawal east of the Dneipr?

    I assume that saying that the move is “possible” really means that it is going to happen and, based on the photos, is happening.

    The other question is how this fits into the bigger strategy and operational concept for employment of the mobilized forces.

    The endstate has to involve forcing Ukraine to come to the peace table, which means, to me, some combination of destroying military forces, targeting infrastructure and targeting the Ukrainian need to export across the Black Sea. I guess this could be done from east of the Dneipr–maybe.

    Funny that in WW I, foreign liaison officers with the Russians were talking about how “dissimulation” was one of the characteristic problems of the Russian Army by which they meant the unwillingness at all levels to “tell it like it is.”

  2. peterinanz says

    The sole purpose of this fellow is to placate an average Russian citizen into doing nothing about the current state of affairs.
    Keeping the Putin clique in power, at any cost, especially for an average Russian, is what this debacle has been from 3 days into it.

    The author can’t grasp it because, at heart, he’s a Russophile of a misguided type. 95% are.
    It’s starting to get uncomfortable watching their mental gymnastics trying to rationalize, explain…accept…this debacle. How about “force protection” by full withdrawal from Ukraine? Why stop there? Remember Napoleon? Trust the plan. Believe.
    I thought I’ve seen it all with an average Magatard with Trump. At least no life and limb lost. LARP-ing vs facing HMARS. This is next level of self-delusion.

    This site WAS exceptional at the beginning of this fiasco. But, still, can’t really cut deep enough into the abscess to clean it up. That mental block is, apparently, hard to break through. Perhaps that Orthodoxy thing Quigley wrote some time ago was/is correct.

    The result WILL be suffering on an epic scale within RF. Much less in Europe. Even less in the true centers of Empire’s power.

    There IS a way out of this mess but will require a deep shift in thinking of leading Rusophiles. Unlikely at this stage.

    1. Oscar Peterson says

      Why would a change in the situation be dependent on the thinking of “leading Russophiles”?

      Who are you talking about?

      1. peterinanz says

        “Why would a change in the situation be dependent on the thinking of “leading Russophiles”?”

        If the change is to be beneficial for an average Russian it needs to come from very smart, well organized and supported Rusophiles. Those 5% who aren’t buying “5d chess” and similar BS. Ideally some collaboration between those both in the West and Russia itself.
        At the moment the change, for worse re average Russians, is being managed by Putin’s clique and Empire’s 0.1 %. Successfully I’d like to add, for their own objectives, of course. Preserve/increase own power and wealth. The cabal just implemented martial law in RF occup…I mean liberated areas in Ukraine. Looking forward to true rationing in Europe. Etc.

        I WAS hoping that Marko and some authors here would be part of that group. Deeper into this debacle it’s less likely to happen.

        “Who are you talking about?”
        Do your homework. I’d start with reading “Tragedy and Hope”, parts about Russia in particular.

        1. Oscar Peterson says

          I guess I just don’t see these “Russophiles” as likely to have any influence–or really even come to the notice of–Russian decision makers.

          Do you think Russian power players are likely to be reading or skimming Anti-Empire?

    2. Kevin Barsi says

      are you russian?

    3. Yuno says

      Marko is a “slavophile,” not a “russophile.” The fact that there is a difference between the two seems hardly to be entertained here and in other places where western “russophiles” commiserate.

      You could argue that Rus is the ‘leading element’ of the slavic world, therefore… etc., etc.,… but you wouldn’t be making any more of an impression than than those who throw around the “anglophile” term do; the “Anglo-imperialists” of “merry olde England” are decidedly inferior in status to the “anglo-american” imperialists who rule that roost. Are the latter indeed “Anglo,” or do they simply utilize the tongue for purposes of entraining their subject populations via clever “NLP” type sonic manipulations?

      Twentieth century RUS was a project of some very wealthy and determined self-exiles from the eastern European world, breaking those same “anglos” and “americans” gradually into their respective roles in a society where the new masters were neither. It should come as no surprise that the rump Rus which survives after the demise of the USSR has received the same ‘trim’ at the top, and suffered thereby a total replacement of it’s elite by the very same parties who effectively conquered the west.

      Slavs looking for some form of ethnic ‘redemption’ will hardly be expected to cast loving eyes towards a now fallen ‘third Rome’ which conspires to execute as many Slav’s as it’s new masters direct it to.

      Ironically, the very tenor of the bitterness which accompanies complaints as to Marko’s failure to maximize the “Rus is our Leader” script dovetails with the wails & gnashings of those who live in the west and hope for its demise. All such parties are leagued under a banner which reads |We ALL Jonestowners NOW!|

  3. Oscar Peterson says

    Once again, we see that from the start, there has been a basic contradiction between Putin’s two goals:

    1. Reversing Ukraine’s NATOization.

    2. Reversing the rift between the two “fraternal peoples.”

    The first required military action–preferably rapid action. The second was likely to be retarded or imperiled by military action–the more intense the action, the more the peril. This was the cleverness of the US scheme–to create the circumstances for this contradiction.

    Putin hoped to reconcile the two with his “nice guy” early soft approach, which, as we know, did not work.

    Surovikin attempts to reconcile them in this phrase:

    “…we wish for Ukraine… to be a friendly state to Russia.”

    It’s amazing what a dumpster fire the two bumblers, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, left for Putin. He might have played it better here or there, but what a strategic mess he inherited.

    1. Panos says

      The logic of the War,which in this case is existential whether VVP likes it or not, will burn out all these contradictions,sooner or later.

  4. Blackledge says

    If RF is mass evacuating civilians and withdrawing its military forces to the east side of the river, should we expect to see a Stalinesque “scorched earth” policy used on Kherson and the surrounding area prior to Russian withdrawal, as was done in the USSR in the summer of 1941?

    1. Panos says

      The RF army is stuck at the Kherson bridghead,for better or worse.It is impossible to evacuate it without massive losses of equipment and personell,since it is under the ukrowehrmacht artillery, plus losing the chance to drive to Odessa(an absolute MUST if RF wants to be a winner at the end…)for the foreseeable future.I will say nothing about the political and diplomatic debacle,the Kharkiv/Kupyansk defeat was an operational one,this will be strategic.

      Kherson must be held,at all costs.

      1. Blackledge says

        Thanks much for the reply, it is appreciated.

  5. YakovKedmi says

    Another fat general. Fat generals, fat lt.-cols, fat majors. The Ukrainian Army is full of them, too. Since February how many chief generals have we had over the Expeditionary Force ?
    >>>>> “Ukrainians and we are one people”
    Even “we” are not one people —just ask those who recently left “we”; since September more “we” left “we” than were forced into the Army of We Liberation

    This TV performance is a head-fake —get ready for the first real battle in this Special War.
    (Has this general ever given a TV performance before ? has he ever voiced his feelings about Slavdom, Pan-Slavia, Motherhood, Russianhood, and some-such dogshit ?)

    if the Expeditionary Force abandons the right bank of Dnieper, they will not cross it again; it would be a prelude to a negotiated end-of-war

    The Russian nation must be constantly on a war footing to keep the soldiers warlike and in good condition. No rest must be allowed, except for the purpose of relieving the state finances, recruiting the army, or biding the favourable moment for attack. By this means peace is made subservient to war, and war to peace, in the interest of the aggrandisement and increasing prosperity of Russia.

    Every possible means must be used to invite from the most cultivated European states commanders in war, and philosophers in peace: to enable the Russian nation to participate in the advantages of other countries, without losing any of its own.

    No opportunity must be lost of taking part in the affairs and disputes of Europe, especially in those of Germany, which, from its vicinity, is of the most direct interest to us.

    Poland must be divided, by keeping up constant jealousies and confusion there. The authorities must be gained over with money, and the assemblies corrupted so as to influence the election of the kings. We must get up a party of our own there, send Russian troops into the country, and let them sojourn there so long that they may ultimately find some pretext for remaining there for ever. Should the neighbouring states make difficulties, we must appease them for the moment, by allowing them a share of the territory, until we can safely resume what we have thus given away.

    We must take away as much territory as possible from Sweden, and contrive that they shall attack us first, so as to give us a pretext for their subjugation. With this object in view, we must keep Sweden in opposition to Denmark, and Denmark to Sweden, and sedulously foster their mutual jealousies.

    The consorts of the Russian princes must always be chosen from among the German princesses, in order to multiply our family alliances with the Germans, and to unite our interests with theirs; and thus, by consolidating our influence in Germany, to cause it to attach itself spontaneously to our policy.

    We must be careful to keep up our commercial alliance with England, for she is the power which has most need of our products for her navy, and at the same time may be of the greatest service to us in the development of our own. We must export wood and other articles in exchange for her gold, and establish permanent connexions between her merchants and seamen and our own.

    We must keep steadily extending our frontiers northward along the Baltic, and southwards along the shores of the Black Sea.

    We must progress as much as possible in the direction of Constantinople and India. He who can once get possession of these points is the real ruler of the world. With this view we must provoke constant quarrels —at one time with Turkey, and at another with Persia. We must establish wharves and docks in the Euxine, and by degrees make ourselves masters of that sea, as well as of the Baltic, which is a doubly important element in the success of our plan. We must hasten the downfall of Persia; push on to the Persian Gulf; if possible, re-establish the ancient commercial intercourse with the Levant through Syria; and force our way into the Indies, which are the storehouses of the world; once there, we can dispense with English gold.

    Grand Peter also had long tables, but the seating arrangement was very different:

    “The czar being come in, and having chosen a place for himself, there is such scuffling and fighting for chairs, that nothing more scandalous can be seen in any company, though the czar does not mind it in the least, nor does he take care for putting a stop to such disorder, pretending that a ceremony, and the formal regulations of a marshal, make people sit uneasy and spoil the pleasure of conversation. Several foreign ministers have complained of this to the czar, and refuse to dine any more at court, but all the answer they got was, that it was not the czar’s business to turn master of the ceremonies, and please foreigners, nor was it his intention to abolish the freedom once introduced; this obliged strangers for the future to follow the Russian fashion, in defending the possession of their chairs, by cuffing and boxing their opposer. The company thus sitting down to table without any manner of grace, they all sit so crowded together, that they have much ado to lift their hands to their mouths, and if a stranger happens to sit between two Russians, which is commonly the case, he is sure of losing his stomach, though he should have happened to have eat nothing for two days before. Carpenters and shipwrights sit next to the czar; but senators, ministers, generals, priests, sailors, buffoons, of all kinds, sit pell-mell without any distinction. The first course consists of nothing but cold meats, among which are hams, dried tongues, and the like, which, not being liable to such tricks as shall be mentioned hereafter, strangers ordinarily make their whole meal of them, without tasting anything else, though generally speaking, every one takes his dinner beforehand at home.

    “Soups and roasted meats make the second course, and pastry the third. As soon as one sits down, one is obliged to drink a cup of brandy, after which they ply you with great glasses of adulterated Tokay, and other vitiated wines, and between whiles, a bumper of the strongest English beer, by which mixture of liquors every one of the guests is fuddled before the soup is served up. The company being in this condition, make such a noise, racket, hallging, that it is impossible to hear one another, or even to hear the music, which is playing in the next room, consisting of a sort of trumpets and cornets, for the czar hates violins, and with this revelling noise and uproar the czar is extremely diverted, particularly if the guests fall to boxing and get bloody noses.

    “Formerly the company had no napkin given them, but instead of it they had a piece of very coarse linen given them by a servant, who brought in the whole piece under his arm, and cut off half an ell for every person, which they are at liberty to carry home with them, for it had been observed that these pilfering guests used sometimes to pocket the napkins; but at present two or three Russians must make shift with but one napkin, which they pull and haul for, like hungry dogs for a bone. Each person of the company has but one plate during dinner, so if some Russian does not care to mix the sauces of the different dishes together, he pours the soup that is left in his plate either into the dish or into his neighbour’s plate, or even under the table, after which he licks his plate clean with his finger, and, last of all, wipes it with the table cloth. The tables are each thirty or forty feet long, and ten and a half broad, three or four messes of one and the same course are served up to each table; the dessert consists of divers sorts of pastry and fruits, but the czaritsa’s table is furnished with sweetmeats; however, it is to be observed that these sweetmeats are only set out on great festivals for a show, and that the Russians of the best fashion have nothing for their dessert but the produce of the kitchen-garden, as peas, beans, &c., all raw. At great entertainments it frequently happens that nobody is allowed to go out of the room from noon till midnight, hence it is easy to imagine what pickle a room must be in, that is full of people who drink like beasts, and none of them escape being dead drunk.

    “They often tie eight or ten young mice in a string, and hide them under green peas, or in such soups as the Russians have the greatest appetite to, which sets them a kicking and vomiting in a most beastly manner, when they come to the bottom and discover the trick; they often bake cats, wolves, ravens, and the like, in their pastry, and when the company have eaten them up, they tell them what they have in their guts.”

    1. Blackledge says

      Is the Kremlin looking for a way out, Yakov? All of the 5D Putin-tards claim “victory is close at hand,” but I have difficulty seeing anything but continued retreat and defeat. Am I seeing it all wrong?

      Where do you see all of this headed? What does the future look like to you, by next summer (2023)?

  6. peterinanz says

    If I may (because you cut to the chase here):
    “Is the Kremlin looking for a way out? ”
    All of the 5D Putin-tards claim “victory is close at hand,” but I have difficulty seeing anything but continued retreat and defeat. Am I seeing it all wrong?

    And, the really important. The questions are, actually, IMHO, other way around, so I’ll go with the later first.
    “Where do you see all of this headed? What does the future look like to you, by next summer (2023)?”
    Russians on the defensive, NATO on the offensive. How, exactly, it will look on the ground can’t be known. Depends on a lot of things, state of the world financial system first and foremost. If NATO keeps, hard, delivering the required help we could see fall/retaking of all lost/taken ground except Crimea.
    The former: it’s headed into hard centralization of power and wealth, everywhere. Mostly “Brave New World” with CBDC, Universal Digital ID and Social Credit. Carrot, if you will, to get compliance from the populace. Sprinkling of “1984” re “eternal war” with ongoing conflict in Ukraine/RF. Taiwan if deemed desired.
    People like us, reading/writing here getting a shaft. Austerity with panopticon. People on the very top, everywhere, having a good time.
    Now, there are no certainties, just possibilities, but I’d go with the above 90 %.

    1. Blackledge says

      An excellent, thought-provoking post.

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