Ukrainians Have Crossed the Oskil, Russia No Longer Holds 100% of Lugansk

The war in the parameters of "SMO" has turned against Russia

The war in the parameters of "SMO" has turned against Russia

At Kherson a grind continues with the Ukrainians still hoping they can gradually weaken and expose Russian positions in a phased setpiece battle.

At Bakhmut Wagner in its private war has edged a little closer to the town.

Around the confluence of Oskil and Seversky Donetsk (near Izyum) the Ukrainians have crossed the river and captured the villages of Sviatohirsk and Yarova.

At Kupyansk Russian reporters on the ground say that Russian forces are still in eastern half of the city across the Oskil, but they have only been able to provide footage from the nearby village of Kislovka as they report that from there on Ukrainian artillery is too dangerous.

Ukrainians meanwhile have been able to supply footage of strolling across the Oskil bridge in Kupyansk, and of a part of eastern Kupyansk. It seems certain that the Ukrainians carried out at least a temporary incursion into left-bank Kupyansk, and even pro-Russian mappers are drawing the situation in that town as the bridge being in Ukrainian possession along with a thin strip beyond it.

The Ukrainians have also crossed the Seversky Donetsk near Slovyansk and are threatening Liman.

Finally, the Ukrainians have taken, or at the very least entered, the settlement of Belogorovka not far from Lisichansk.

Belogorovka and Lisichansk were located near the exposed tip of the Ukrainian salient that the Russians spent entire late spring and summer collapsing. Moreover Belogorovka is in Lugansk oblast.

In summary then, the Ukrainians hold 2, possibly 3 bridgeheads across the Oskil-Seversky Donetsk system. At Lyman, at Sviatohirsk, and possibly at Kupyansk. (In the recent Ukrainian offensive Russia fled behind the Oskil but now even these river-aided positions aren’t holding up everywhere.)

The Russians also no longer hold 100% of Lugansk oblast.

Who could have thought that after 208 days of fighting the Russians would hold neither the whole of Donetsk nor Lugansk?

Shocking stuff, but that’s not even the key Russian problem. The truth is that even if Putin held the whole of DLPR his position would be no better.

If Putin held the whole of DLPR he could declare that his minimal goals had been accomplished and that he was now ready for a ceasefire. But why should the Ukrainians accept an end to hostilities?

In a war, it is not enough to take physical possession of your objective (which the Russians have failed to do), one must also force the other side to accept the new status quo.

In an overwhelming victory that is done by conquering the opposing political system, or shattering the opposing military. Failing that the war must at least demonstrate to the other side the futility of trying to recapture what has been lost.

The Russians have done anything but.

After just 7 months of expedited Ukrainian army-building, the Russians find themselves outnumbered and on the defensive, and even ceding ground in places. What the Ukrainians will be thinking is “if we accomplished this much in 7 months, how much more can we do in another 7 or 14?”

The Russian conscript-less invasion neither collapsed the Ukrainian state, nor isolated it from its major sources of manpower (cities). Owing to aggression, surprise, and an edge in technology and professionalism it was initially dominant over the opposition. But that wasn’t leveraged in a way to cripple Kiev’s ability to prosecute the war past the initial stage in any game-changing way. For example, except for Mariupol neither Ukrainian cities nor forces in the south and east were encircled.

(For a conscript-less invasion even a conventional military plan that sought southeastern encirclements to prevent Kiev from being able to dip into the manpower of Kharkov, Dnipro, Zaporozhye, etc would have been very difficult already. Instead, an even more ambitious plan to drive over 300 kilometers to Kiev was conceived, wasting the military’s elan on the pie-in-the-sky that was the daydream of instant regime change.)

I said in April that the outcome of the war is in Russia’s hands alone. Russia is massive enough and the US has taken enough of a backseat that this is true. It is only a question of Russian willpower. If Russia wants to win badly enough, nothing can stop her. But this is only true if deploying conscripts is on the table.

But if deploying conscripts is forever off the table — then it is rather the other way around. Then the outcome is in Ukraine’s hands alone and only a question of Ukrainian willpower.

If conscripts are off the table then Moscow will be extremely lucky just to get the Iraq-Iran War scenario. — A never-ending bloody stalemate where the better-equipped military precariously hangs against a larger force.

But this is the optimistic scenario for Moscow. In the less rosy scenario for Moscow Kiev will continue building up its army until one day it will be capable of successful offensives, not just against neglected Russian flanks, but even against its center.

Putin says that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. That would make Ukrainians his people. I think that he is sincere in this. I think that he is not numb to Russian deaths and I think that he is not numb to Ukrainian deaths. — And yet he escalated the dormant Donbass War into the much larger Ukraine War without a surefire way to the bloodshed.

He watched George Bush start wars without a surefire endgame, and then he went ahead and did the same himself. Except Bush at least started such wars with far-away foreigners. But Putin popped open a new open-ended slaughter where every death would be Russian.


PS.: Putin is expected to address the nation shortly. We’ll see if the address will be in some way connected to the deployment of conscripts.

  1. Blackledge says

    LPR, DPR, Kherson, and Zaporozhye are said to be holding referendums for joining RF, shortly. And so, the rationale for some sort of mobilization – limited or full – seems to be in the offing. Will it work?

    Meanwhile, winter is not far off…

  2. peterinanz says

    Posted this comment around 12 hours ago. It stayed up for a couple of hours and then disappeared.
    I am ….sure….it must’ve been a glitch in software:).

    Here it is, again:
    “If Russia wants to win badly enough, nothing can stop her. But this is only true if deploying conscripts is on the table.”
    Too late for that. Had that been done late last year, with proper preparations, maybe. Not anymore.

    “Putin says that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. That would make Ukrainians his people. I think that he is sincere in this.”
    Putin sincere?! Oh boy.

    RF problems are structural. The only way out of its predicament is replacing the cabal in Kremlin with somebody willing, and capable, to implement deep reforms of society.
    Not likely at this stage.
    The cleptocracy in Moscow will try to keep its power by any means necessary.
    We’ll see increasing internal dissent, especially along ethnic lines, and probably some splintering on the periphery.

    Interesting times for an average Russian.

  3. TZVI says

    Agreed, I don’t see How Russia will force Ukraine to accept loss of Territory under current conditions. They never accepted the loss of Crimea, never even fulfilled the agreement to give Autonomy within their borders to mostly Russian speaking Oblasts.

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