War Is Not Going Super Great for Either of the Sides. It’s Also No Stalemate

No plan survives contact

The central parts of the Russian pre-war plan were the drive on Kiev, and the drive to cut off the many Ukrainian units in Donbass

Ukrainian Impotence in the South

Not looking good for the Kievan side in the south. They have given up a lot of territory in just 3 days while offering only light resistance. They haven’t attrited the enemy much at all.

Their biggest success was probably hitting Russian columns with Su-25s hard on at least two occasions, but they have had their own forces obliterated from the air on the same roads to an even greater extent.

It’s difficult to know where the Russians are now. Some reports still have them on the Dnieper, while according to others they have already reached Mykolaiv/Nikolaev to the west and the Bug river that runs through it.

They could also be somewhere in between, past the Dnieper but not yet at the Bug. Particularly their lighter, screening elements. [For good maps and sense of space turn to War Mapper, Wikipedia, and Livemap.]

In any case, nobody denies that Ukrainians gave up both of the bridges on the lower Dnieper (in Nova Kakhovka and Kherson) intact so when the Russians decide to cross they can.

However, the Russian forces advancing from Crimea seem to be more interested in the north-eastern direction.

Driving north-east the Russians rolled through Melitopol. A city of 150,000 where they encountered what amounts to token resistance. Driving further they have now passed  Tokmak to the north and bypassed Berdyansk along the coast.

They have gone at least as far as the village of Osypenko which puts them at 60 kilometers to the west of Mariupol.

In the next few days, they will probably try to make contact with Donetsk forces somewhere to the north of Mariupol at which point this coastal city of 450,000 will be cut off.

So far Ukraine has no counter or solution to Russian forces breaking out from Crimea. If these can soon reach Mariupol and Zaporozhye (black arrows) that could be very strategically significant

Even more critically, if the Russians keep driving from Tokmak north they could be in a position — if they bring enough forces — to cordon off Zaporozhye and its Dnieper bridges and deny the strong Ukrainian forces in Donbass one avenue of retreat across the Dnieper.

The most worrying thing for Kiev isn’t even the extent of the Russian advance but that it can’t seem to muster a defense or put anything in front of the Russians that would significantly frustrate them. So far it seems the sheer vastness of Ukraine is the bigger challenge for the Russians in the south than Kievan resistance.

Was this all just a tactical retreat of the Kievans and will they at some point plant their feet and meet the Russians with a defensive line, ideally before Zaporozhye? Possibly. Perhaps this was indeed a “tactical retreat” rather than a flight. Particularly since this coastal part of Ukraine is vulnerable to amphibious landing so the Kievans’ back was not secure.

On the other hand, the Russians could only land at the very most 2,000 troops at a time. Moreover “tactical retreat” doesn’t explain why the lower Dnieper bridges were allowed to fall to the enemy intact.

Now for the Russian Troubles

From the Russian side the fact they could soon be blocking the Ukrainian forces in Donbass from Dnieper bridges in Zaporozhye is great. But it’s not going to mean anything if a northern pincer to cut them off from the Dnipro bridges doesn’t materialize as well and so far there is no sign of it.

Still no sign of a northern pincer. Unless the Russian can bypass Kharkov and reach Dnipro even taking Zaporozhye from the south won’t mean all that much

It’s early on, but nonetheless, so far the Russian forces in the east are stuck at Kharkov. Unable so far to either take it or go around it.

A city of 1.5 million, Kharkov is a big obstacle indeed, but the lack of Russian preparedness here nonetheless seems confusing. The existence of this sprawling city is not a secret and could not have come as a surprise to the Russians.

Doing armchair generalship (with only bits of information) it seems obvious they should have planned to either storm it in force from day one, or should have moved decisively to bypass it also from day one.

So far they have ended up with the worst of both worlds, neither fully avoiding it nor being able to clear it.

The option of storming it is not very appealing due to political considerations. It could further alienate Ukrainians as well as the Russian homefront.

That however doesn’t explain why the Russians haven’t been able to race past it instead.

There is something that might explain it.

There is considerable indication by now that Russian forces are having severe supply issues. They run out of fuel and have been filmed raiding supermarkets to feed themselves.

This scrounging for supplies is a distraction and leaves them vulnerable. Moreover while ripping off Aldi is a way to get food it can’t replenish your ammo.

Further to the north, around Sumy, a puny 5K troops (6 battalion tactical groups) have been able to drive an impressive 120 kilometers into Ukraine (to Bakmach) but were then stopped to a considerable extent by supply issues.

It is unclear why are they having logistical difficulties of such magnitude.

Is it because they are racing deep into Ukraine with very small forces which leaves their supply routes exposed and easy pickings for any Ukrainians left behind? It’s possible.

If that is the case then Russia simply needs to commit more units to the fight and the problem will fix itself.

There is also another possibility. This is the first time ever that post-Soviet Russia has amassed 150,000 troops in the field. It has neither the US experience in doing this nor its deep pockets. Actually Anti-Empire reported the story where even before the war kicked off a company of men near the border was left without food for 5 days.

It is possible that Russian supply issues aren’t simply about lines of supply through Ukraine, but more generally about Russia struggling to supply the 150K strong force it has amassed in general. For all we know these supply issues are faced by Russian troops on both sides of the border.

If so, and if Russia intends to win, then it needs to get the civilian sector involved and soon. Maybe its state-owned corporations which have been so eager to show their “patriotic” colors by financing and distributing Sputnik can cough up some money to get a fuel and food bridge to the troops going (the army can do the ammo).

Anyhow, as best as we know the two central parts of the Russian plan were to go for Kiev, and to go for the encirclement of the Ukrainian military in Donbass.

At least when they write about warfare the Russians do not believe in fighting attritional wars and do not believe wars are won by capturing territory.

What they believe is that a war is contest between systems, and that a war is won decisively when the system of the other side that enables it to wage war is destroyed.

There is the military system and the political system that commands it. You can take away the ability of the other side to wage war by destroying its military or by coercing or dismantling the political system above it.

The encirclement of Ukrainian units in Donbass would go a long way toward destroying its military. The Russian pre-war claim of Ukraine having 125,000 troops there was an obvious exaggeration, but clearly it was the most militarized part of Ukraine by far. Without the units there Ukrainian military is much diminished.

On the other hand, the Russian drive from Belarus toward Kiev has been all about targeting the opposing political system. It is not impossible that encircling Kiev or marching into it would cause the Kievan leadership to disintegrate or accept an armistice favorable to Moscow. Not a certainty, but for Russian military planners worth a shot.

Nonetheless, the drive on Kiev from the north has met with similar setbacks as the campaign in the east around Sumy and Kharkov. The combination of insufficient forces committed and supply issues.

Particularly the pincer to the east of the Kiev Reservoir has stalled due to inability so far to either storm or bypass Chernigov, a city of 300,000. (Actually it has been bypassed in part but this leaves the Russians relying on inferior backwater roads).

Ukrainian defense of Chernigov (aided by reluctance of the Russians to use massed artillery fire) has been an issue for the Russians in keeping them off the main road

Actually so far of the four major cities the Russians have reached they have only been able to capture Melitopol where only token resistance was offered. This can be justified in Sumy (250,000 people) which was eventually successfully cordoned off and bypassed, but Chernigov and Kharkov are so far serving as serious obstacles.

Thus both sides are having serious problems, and the war is not taking an ideal course for either of them. But it is important to keep perspective. It is the Kievan side which is ceding ground, which is so far unable to contain the Russian forces in the south, and which has enemy forces parked 15 kilometers from its Presidential palace.

The Russians have their own problems but these are not on the same plane as the Ukrainian ones. Even with just a minority of the assembled Russian forces committed it is they who are advancing. And while taking territory does not win you wars, it does go to show that there is an overmatch.

Despite some questionable committals of Russian troops and unnecessary losses it is the Ukrainians who are on the back foot and who are reaching for desperation strategies like retreating into cities and giving away weapons to civilians.

In fact, it is clear that some Russian problems stem from the fact that political factors were given priority over military orthodoxy. In other words, Moscow still fears the capabilities of the Ukrainian military a lot less than it fears that unleashing the full firepower of the Russian military would turn the homefront against the war and possibly make post-war Ukraine ungovernable.

  1. Rhetorius says

    The only thing not going super-great is your ridiculous attempt to portray the Russian army as a flock of geese lost in the fog… 😉

    1. Nick Hondros says


      1. Linda Riviera says


    2. Ultrafart the Brave says

      If a goose is lost in the fog – pray he doesn’t find you.

  2. Nick Hondros says

    Ummmm Kharkov has been taken I believe

  3. Divelto says

    Colonel Cassad’s (Boris Rozhin) Telegram channel reports Russian troops having entered Kharkov. Of course, there is no way to be 100% sure about what is going on.

  4. Steve Ginn says

    Why does Anti Empire persist in allowing this clown Marko Marjanović to post such unfounded drivel? Get a proper correspondent!

    1. Ultrafart the Brave says

      … because he owns Anti-Empire.

      And to his credit, he seems to be very tolerant of a diversity of views.

      There is this thing called “situational awareness”…

    2. guest says

      My oh my, what a large number of imperialists visit this anti-empire.com !

    3. nnn says

      The guy is a Nazi sympathizer

      1. Mr Reynard says

        Hmm Maybe ?? But he’s for sure a hasbara troll IMHO …

  5. Hungary Guy says

    Still, LOT of Troops sitting still in Belarus (near Poland).
    I think Ukraine is a Testground for a certain kind of Precision Strikes/ Calculated military Offensive. If yields Result, could be implemented BIG. I mean real BIG…

    1. Peter says

      Or it could be what it is: To wage a HALF ASSED WAR because of the psychological state of a destroyed, brainwashed people, who are after all, a family. They want them to start to think, and see who their brothers Nazis are. Time does wonders…. What I don’t understand are the lacunae, the thought compartmentalization of Markos thinking with missing compartments.

  6. ken says

    Russia has more worries then Ukraine. No sane General would commit his entire army to one theater especially when he is dealing with lunatics like the FUKUS axis -France. UK, US) They must maintain a defensive posture in case the lunatic FUKUS decide to join the game.

    The reason the Germans got so far in WWII was because the USSR had no defensive backup when Germany attacked. (The USSR was setting up to attack Germany and later Europe) If not for a once in a century winter they would possibly be speaking German today. Russia learned the lesson.

    The US, UK and Germany have said they are going to arm Ukraine. This goes against Neutrality rules of war. Russia now has the option of declaring war on the gun runners. They are also free to attack Trains, trucks, aircraft suspected of bringing weapons to the Ukrainians. A sort of reverse Lusitania situation.

    As for the fuel,,, I would definitely instruct the army to use the enemies fuel whenever available.

    Putin’s goals remain unknown which is normal as you surely don’t want to let your enemy know per Sun Tzu. Your enemy can use this against you.

    As for looking weak,,, That is another Sun Tzu recommendation. The Ukrainians may be making a mistake so Russia may back off to help them. Sun Tzu.

    Right now it appears Russia is doing the right things. Of course they can’t let it drag out too long or they’ll end up in a protracted guerrilla war. (Afghanistan)

    IMO they are in the process of positioning themselves, consolidating and probably trying to locate the comedian playing the Western stooge.

    1. Hungary Guy says

      China probably cooperating East. Plus NK, too.

  7. nnn says

    Anti-Empire can go to hell

    1. Boro from Slavija says

      Anti-Empire responds: Fuck U!

  8. Maiasta says

    RT & Sputnik banned in the EU, for anyone who hadn’t noticed yet:


  9. ken says

    I tell you what is surprising and makes little sense, is after the US/UK/EU/Germany and West in general state they are going to supply more weapons to Ukraine,,, and assist in other ways,,, calling the Ukraine Nazi’s “freedom fighters” ,,, cutting Russia off of Swift,,, etc,,, etc,,, etc,,,

    Russia is still pumping them gas, through Ukraine, and at a very high rate.

    Absolutely insane. Is this the beaten wife syndrome?

    If they continual this, they will be sorry…..

    1. XSFRGR says

      The West knows that Ukraine will fall long before they can ship them war materials.

    2. Hungary Guy says

      Exactly. Power, water, sanitation, communications in Ukraine practicalyy unharmed, too. This is the weirdest “War” I have ever seen.
      And 30 BTGs committed into Battle- seems irracionally few.
      Something’s very- very fishy.

      Sun Tzu: appear weak when you are strong.
      Wonder what Putins chessgame is here. Cause he is probably doing it big time.

  10. tobi999 says

    Posted Feb 27, 2022 by Martin Armstrong

    I have been warning the West should not mess with Putin. It is so obvious that the West has made the same fatal as that of Rome. It has weakened its economy with COVID and it is so obsessed with trying to force Russia and China to comply with their Climate Change directives set out by the UN, that they have lost sight of the fact that there is no qualified leadership in any of the major countries and they have weakened their entire military establishment demanding vaccines or you are out. If there was ever a PERFECT time for World War III – this is it.

    I have been warning that if China and Russia combined, the West will be defeated. Reliable sources have confirmed that China has entered into a “friendly” relationship with North Korea for mutual benefit. North Korea has one of the largest armies since 2018 it stands at 1,469,000.00. North Korea has been also demonized by the West so they too have a grudge match that has never been settled. With rising shortages of food, the North has never been the breadbasket of Korea and that also provides an incentive to join a triumvirate against the West with Russia and China. Cyclically, North Korea could even start its aggression by January 2023 at the latest.

    Additionally, Putin has just dramatically just upped the stakes ordering Russian nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert today because of the boasting of the West and the “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers. Lost in all of this is the fact that Putin has also made a direct threat to Europe that if Sweden and Finland join NATO there will be “detrimental military and political consequences.”

    Putin is playing chess while the rest of the world was playing checkers. When America wages war, they seek to destroy all the infrastructure, take down the power grid, and destroy the water supply. US troops then move in as more of a mop-up operation. The West is judging Putin by the same way the US wages war and they are so wrong. Putin is not using that strategy for he wants to take Ukrain intact for it also has the richest land in the world for food production – hence Stalin stole all the food and killed 7 million by starvation.

    Putin is NOT backing away from resistance, he is encircling it the classic way war is traditionally fought – you laid “siege” to the city by surrounding it, and starvation forces their surrender. That often takes time, but you then have the city and the people. You do not raze it to the ground and kill everyone. Anyone who has studied ancient war strategies should see what Putin is doing and the Western press is either deliberately putting out propaganda, or they are complete idiots. Putin seeks to install a new government with minimal casualties to civilians. Every dead civilian creates a blood enemy of their survivors. But the US way means it then costs billions in aid to rebuild what they destroyed – i.e. Iraq. Putin is not using that strategy and the Western press is judging him by American standards of destroying everything and winning in a few days.

    Putin is not seeking to destroy the Ukrainian Army. He wants to capture it and once a new government is installed, they will then become allies. This is the very strategy of Alexander the Great. He conquered the known world, but those who were once his enemy joined his army. In Babylon, he defeated Darius III but he left the infrastructure intact and he installed Persian satraps (governors) who poured what would have been Darius’s taxes into Alexander’s coffers. This is the strategy of Putin – not obliterate your enemy and then pour billions in to restore it. Putin has wiped out the air force and owns the skies over Ukraine. He could annihilate the country in less than 3 days, but he is not doing that.

    1. XSFRGR says

      Excellent, and very knowledgeable post !!!

    2. guest says

      How appropriate that you should mention Alexander from Macedon in connection with the Protector of Slavdom ! Alexander was paid for by the contemporary international money power. Parthia repelled the stooge of the ancient NWO. Just as Parthia repelled evil empire Rome, the other project of the international money power.

      Encirclement is a very good plan —that is how Hitler captured half of Slavia in three months. Unfortunately, the other half had unlimited supplies, and in three years pushed the German army out of Slavia.

      As we speak, Galicia has unlimited supply of ammunition and weaponry, and it is pouring into the country. Banderka fought against Stalin until 1948, without any help or supplies. How will the grand-children do with Stingers in their hands ?

      1. Peter says

        we are living in different technologies…

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