Yesterday I wrote that it was for Ukraine to retreat from Bakhmut. Since then, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that the city is being reinforced, and Ukraine has no plans to surrender it. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. It’s in Ukraine’s interest to have Russia keep funneling forces toward Bakhmut, even if it plans an eventual retreat.
But today is less about Bakhmut and more about perspective.
So that is not totally accurate. Russia gained a bit more than 80 square kilometers around Bakhmut in that time. That’s 30 square miles, or a 5-mile-by-6-mile grid. Still, you can’t see that on the map above because it is a militarily insignificant gain. And if you don’t already know where Bakhmut is on that map, good luck finding it. (It’s the middle red arrow.)
All the orange arrows are the locations of Russia’s big winter offensive. Remember back in February, when everyone was like “RUSSIA’S WINTER OFFENSIVE IS COMING!”, and then they were like, “Wait, is this the winter offensive?” In reality, the last two months have been more of the same self-destructive Russian tactics—mostly frontal assaults against deeply entrenched Ukrainian positions. Both sides may be suffering brutal casualties, but the Pentagon estimates a 5-1 Russian-to-Ukraine casualty ratio. Ukraine will take it. (They claim 7-1, for what it’s worth.)
We have seen some Russian armor, but Ukraine has really perfected its destruction. I’ve linked to this several times, but it never ceases to amaze me:
Ukraine claims 130 Russian pieces of armor destroyed in the last month around Vuhledar, where the supposed “elite” Russian Naval Infantry (aka Marines) got absolutely decimated. The thread above counts 102 pieces of armor and one helicopter, making Ukrainian claims credible.
Back in the fall, we hoped for a big Ukrainian winter offensive once the ground froze. Maybe we’d see Svatove and Kreminna liberated in the north! Instead, something better happened—Western nations finally pledged serious armor. At last count, Ukraine should be getting several hundred main battle tanks and over 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles over the next two months. The U.S. is training Ukrainian officers in combined arms warfare in Germany. Ukrainian troops are currently learning how to operate their new vehicles, and whatever combined-arms lessons are learned in Germany, those Ukrainian units will need to spend several months drilling lessons learned to work out the various kinks.
Indeed, as much as everyone talks about a spring Ukrainian counteroffensive, don’t be surprised to see it dragged out closer to summer. With Russia hellbent on depleting itself using ineffective infantry Zerg rushes, it makes military sense for Ukraine to whittle them down for as long as it takes its offensive firepower to prepare in the rear.
The tragedy is that Ukraine is manning many of its front-line trenches with their own mobilized units, with minimal training and inadequate support. It’s short-term pain in service of Ukraine’s long-term goals, and it freakin’ sucks for those being asked to make that sacrifice. They are buying the time Ukraine needs to prepare with their own blood.
That sacrifice isn’t in vain, as Russia’s big winter offensive has barely budged the lines. The longer defenses hold, regardless of the cost, the better Ukraine’s new armored vanguards will be prepared to liberate their country later this year.
No, we shouldn’t invade Mexico. What the f is wrong with those people?
The bulk were Azovstal defenders.
Woah, what’s a Ukrainian medic doing in the White House? Seemed like a story worth digging into.
Before she was captured, Paievska, better known throughout Ukraine as Taira, had recorded more than 256 gigabytes of harrowing bodycam footage showing her team’s efforts to save the wounded in the besieged city of Mariupol. She got the footage to Associated Press journalists, the last international team in Mariupol, on a tiny data card.
The journalists fled the city on March 15 with the card embedded inside a tampon, carrying it through 15 Russian checkpoints. The next day, Taira was taken by pro-Russia forces.
Three months passed before she emerged on June 17, thin and haggard, her athlete’s body more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) lighter from lack of nourishment and activity. She said the AP report that showed her caring for Russian and Ukrainian soldiers alike, along with civilians of Mariupol, was critical to her release
The camera was on when she intervened to treat a wounded Russian soldier, whom she called “sunshine,” as she does nearly everyone who comes into her life. She chronicled the death of a boy and the successful effort to save his sister, who is now one of Mariupol’s many orphans. On that day, she collapsed against a wall and wept.
Reviewing the video, she said it was a rare loss of control.
“If I cried all the time, I wouldn’t have time to deal with the wounded. So during the war, of course, I became a little harder,” she said. “I shouldn’t have shown that I was breaking down. … We can mourn later.”
The children weren’t the first or the last she treated, she said. But they were part of a larger loss for Ukraine.
“My heart bleeds when I think about it, when I remember how the city died. It died like a person — it was agonizing,” she said. “It feels like when a person is dying and you can’t do anything to help, the same way.”
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