Putin’s War Russia-Ukraine 21 October 2022 –

Written by  //  November 29, 2022  //  Russia, Ukraine  //  No comments

Four maps that explain the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Institute for the Study of War (ISW)
More on Putin’s War

Putin Wants Revenge Not Just on Ukraine But on the U.S. and Its Allies
When Vladimir Putin declared war early Thursday morning, he did not set Ukraine as his ultimate target. The Russian leader focused instead on the U.S. and its allies, placing them at the center of a speech that set the night’s invasion in motion. It was the West, he said, that created the “fundamental threats” to Russia that prompted him to attack Ukraine, and it is the West, he said, that Russia would seek to humble in the ensuing war. (24 February 2022)
Putin’s war in Ukraine through a historical lens
(The World) MARCO WERMAN, HOST: Russian leader Vladimir Putin likes to compare himself to the 18th-century Russian czar Peter the Great. Putin says his goals are the same as a czar. He’s on a historic quest to win back Russian territory. But author and Kremlinologist Mark Galeotti has another take. He says Putin risks looking more like Nicholas II. That’s Russia’s last czar who had a historic falling out with the Russian public and was forced to abdicate. I asked Galeotti, author of the new book Putin’s Wars: From Chechnya to Ukraine, why he thinks the war in Ukraine will be Putin’s final military action.
MARK GALEOTTI, GUEST: Firstly, because this much-vaunted military has been chewed to pieces, and although they’re busy trying to replenish it with mobilized reservists, people who scarcely remember which is the dangerous end of a Kalashnikov. Nonetheless, we’re seeing that just as Ukraine is increasingly acquiring a 21st-century army because of the training and kit that NATO’s providing. Well, now the Russians increasingly are fielding what could be described as a late Soviet 20th-century army. So, I think, first of all, just Putin’s capacity to fight more wars, he’s going to be dramatically limited, whatever happens in Ukraine. But secondly, it also speaks to, I think, the dying days of Putinism. Putin, like any other kind of leader who depended not on democratic legitimation or anything else, depended on the myth, the myth of his own success, the myth that he was a man who never makes a blunder, that he always wins his wars, which in the past he had. Now that is becoming very much a thing of the past. (31 October)

The Hard Truth About Long Wars
By Christopher Blattman
Why the Conflict in Ukraine Won’t End Anytime Soon
Most conflicts are brief. Over the last two centuries, most wars have lasted an average of three to four months. That brevity owes much to the fact that war is the worst way to settle political differences.
As the costs of fighting become apparent, adversaries usually look for a settlement.
Many wars, of course, do last longer. Compromise fails to materialize for three main strategic reasons: when leaders think defeat threatens their very survival, when leaders do not have a clear sense of their strength and that of their enemy, and when leaders fear that their adversary will grow stronger in the future. In Ukraine, all these dynamics keep the war raging.
… The war in Ukraine is just the most recent example of a fight that grinds on not because of strategic dilemmas alone but because both sides find the idea of settlement repugnant.
The principles and obsessions of Ukrainian and Russian leaders fuel the conflict.
Recently, realists such as Henry Kissinger and Stephen Walt have urged Ukraine to overcome its ideological barriers and trade some degree of sovereignty for peace. The difference between such realists and the idealists who want Ukraine to keep fighting is simple: they disagree on the cost of the concessions Ukraine might have to make to produce a deal and on the level of Russia’s ideological commitment to the conquest of its neighbor.

23-25 November
Millions without heat or power
(Reuters) – Millions of Ukrainians were still without heat or power on Friday after the most devastating Russian air strikes on its energy grid so far, with residents warned to brace for further attacks and stock up on water, food and warm clothing.
Ukrainian energy systems on brink of collapse after weeks of Russian bombing
(WaPo) After just six weeks of intense bombing of energy infrastructure, Russia has battered Ukraine to the brink of a humanitarian disaster this winter as millions of people potentially face life-threatening conditions without electricity, heat or running water.
As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.
… Military experts said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to compensate for territorial losses, and to create a sense of war fatigue among Ukraine’s European NATO allies in hopes that they will eventually pressure Kyiv to make concessions and slow arms shipments that enabled Ukraine’s victories.
… For weeks, Russian missiles have targeted key components of Ukraine’s electrical transmission system, knocking out vital transformers without which it is impossible to supply power to households, businesses, government offices, schools, hospitals and other critical facilities.
During a briefing for reporters on Tuesday, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo, the state-run power grid operator, called the damage to the power system “colossal.”

15 November
How to end the war in Ukraine? Sit down and talk. It’s time.
By Katrina vanden Heuvel
(WaPo)…exercising diplomacy is just common sense — and there are signs that the White House might be slowly coming around to the possibility.
Russia has in effect already lost the war. President Vladimir Putin’s dreams of annexing Ukraine are shattered. His military weakness has been exposed, his economy damaged, his country isolated, his support weakened. His troops have suffered horrendous casualties; their morale is broken, their ammunition short.
Ukraine’s advances on the battlefield have likewise come at a horrible cost. Milley estimates that each side has suffered at least 100,000 casualties. Totally dependent on aid from the West, Ukraine’s forces are also short on soldiers, guns, air support and artillery. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced. Russia has savaged Ukraine’s electrical grid. Liberated Kherson, like much of the country, faces a “humanitarian catastrophe.” And as Putin mobilizes more troops, there is little chance that Russia can be dislodged from much of the Russian-speaking east, much less from Crimea.

9-10 November
Battle of Kherson: Russian retreat confirms Putin is losing the war
By Andriy Zagorodnyuk
(Atlantic Council) Russia’s November 9 announcement of a general withdrawal from Kherson is further confirmation that Vladimir Putin is losing the war. The Battle of Kherson itself is still far from over, of course. Ahead are days and possibly weeks of further fighting as tens of thousands of Russian troops attempt to withdraw in good order from strongly entrenched defensive positions. It is entirely possible that this could turn into a rout as isolated pockets of Russian soldiers attempt to save themselves.
Ukrainian officials reacted to news of Russia’s decision to withdraw with an abundance of caution, reflecting concerns in Kyiv that the Kremlin may be seeking to lure Ukrainian troops into a well-prepared trap. Nevertheless, it is already apparent that the Battle of Kherson will end in a landmark Ukrainian victory that will have major ramifications for the further conduct of the war.

In major setback for Putin, Russia withdraws from a key city in southern Ukraine
(NPR) A key city that Russians captured on the second day of their invasion of Ukraine is on the verge of returning to Ukrainian control.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his troops to retreat out of the Ukrainian city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River on Wednesday on the recommendation of the commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin.
“The decision to defend on the left bank of the Dnipro is not easy, but at the same time we will save the lives of our military personnel and the combat capability of our forces,” Surovikin said in televised remarks as he presented a report on the Russian military campaign to Shoigu.
Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Kherson region dies in car crash
(Reuters) – One of Russia’s most prominent officials in Ukraine was killed in a car crash on Wednesday, a blow to Moscow in the southern Kherson region amid growing talk it is poised to withdraw its forces from the city of the same name.

7 November
Russia’s heavy casualties in Ukraine spark outcry and rare official response
Steep Russian casualties in key battles in eastern Ukraine have prompted an unusual public outcry — and sharp criticism of military commanders — by surviving soldiers and family members of recently conscripted fighters, who say their units were led to slaughter in poorly planned operations.
The uproar over battlefield losses near Vuhledar in the Donetsk region prompted an official statement from the Russian Defense Ministry, which sought to play down the reportedly high death toll among soldiers in the 155th Separate Guards Marine Brigade, which led Moscow’s offensive in the area.
It was the first time since the start of Russia’s invasion that the ministry has officially responded to reports of mass casualties and criticism of commanders on Telegram, the main platform used by officials as well as by reporters and bloggers covering the Russian war.

3 November
Russia’s war on Ukraine latest news: Retreat in southern Ukraine signalled
(Reuters) – Russian forces are likely to abandon their foothold on the west bank of Ukraine’s Dnipro River, a Russian-installed occupation official said, signalling a massive Russian retreat that, if confirmed, would be a major turning point in the war.
Ukraine capable of retaking Kherson from Russia -Pentagon chief
World must stand with Kyiv as Putin counts on “General Winter”, EU says

2 November
Grain deal U-turn offers lesson in calling Vladimir Putin’s bluff
Russian leader has backed down in face of defiance, and move also shows Turkey’s growing influence
Russia reinforces military, expands Kherson evacuations
Russia has told civilians to leave an area along the eastern bank of the Dnieper River in the Ukrainian province of Kherson.
Russia had previously ordered civilians out of a pocket it controls on the west bank of the river, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing for weeks with the aim of capturing the city of Kherson.
Russian-installed officials said they were extending that order to a 15km (nine mile) buffer zone along the east bank too. Ukraine says the evacuations include forced deportations from occupied territory, a war crime. The mouth of the Dnieper has become one of the most consequential front lines in the war.

27 October
‘Kill Everyone’: Russian Violence in Ukraine Was Strategic
This story is part of an AP/FRONTLINE investigation that includes the War Crimes Watch Ukraine interactive experience and the documentary “Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes,” on PBS.
Takeaways from investigation of Russian general in Ukraine
The Associated Press and FRONTLINE are gathering, verifying and documenting evidence of potential war crimes in Ukraine, including direct attacks on civilians, and attacks on civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools, residential areas and sites protected under international humanitarian law. War Crimes Watch Ukraine tracks evidence by incident or attack.

26 October
Putin Repeats Unsupported ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claim, Fueling Fears of Escalation
(NYT) The Russian leader said, without offering evidence, that Ukraine was planning to detonate a bomb designed to spread radioactive material. Washington warned that Moscow could be trying to create a pretext for its own attack.
Putin repeats unfounded accusations that the West has labeled disinformation.

25 October
Thomas Friedman: Putin Is Onto Us
The beauty for Putin of an energy bomb is that unlike setting off a nuclear bomb — which would unite the whole world against him — setting off an oil price bomb would divide the West from Ukraine.
I think Putin is assembling a different weapon. It’s an oil and gas bomb that he’s fusing right before our eyes and with our inadvertent help — and he could easily detonate it this winter.
If he does, it could send prices of home heating oil and gasoline into the stratosphere. The political fallout, Putin surely hopes, will divide the Western alliance and prompt many countries — including ours, where both MAGA Republicans and progressives are expressing concerns about the spiraling cost of the Ukraine conflict — to seek a dirty deal with the man in the Kremlin, pronto.
He’s trying to smash Ukraine’s electricity system to ensure a long, cold winter there while putting himself in position to drive up energy costs for all of Ukraine’s allies. And because we — America and the West — do not have an energy strategy in place to dampen the impact of Putin’s energy bomb, this is a frightening prospect. …
As a country, and as a Western alliance, we have no ladder of priorities on energy, just competing aspirations and magical thinking that we can have it all.
Putin scrambles to boost weapons production for Ukraine war
(AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, facing military production delays and mounting losses, urged his government Tuesday to cut through bureaucracy to crank out enough weapons and supplies to feed the war in Ukraine, where a Western-armed Ukrainian counteroffensive has set back Russia’s forces.
The Russian military’s shortfalls in the eight-month war have been so pronounced that Putin had to create a structure to try to address them. On Tuesday, he chaired a new committee designed to accelerate the production and delivery of weapons and supplies for Russian troops, stressing the need to “gain higher tempo in all areas.”
Russian news reports have acknowledged that many of those called up under a mobilization of 300,000 reservists Putin ordered haven’t been provided with basic equipment such as medical kits and flak jackets, and had to find their own. Other reports have suggested that Russian troops are increasingly forced to use old and sometimes unreliable equipment and that some of the newly mobilized troops are rushed to the war front with little training

21-23 October
Putin has found a new weapon of mass destruction
The Kakhovka dam holds more than 18 million cubic metres of water. If destroyed it would hurl an all-engulfing wall of water into 80 towns and villages along the Dnieper, including Kherson city with a pre-war population of 284,000, drowning thousands, creating a deluge of refugees, depriving the whole of southern Ukraine of its water supply, dangerously cutting off cooling water to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant and creating severe power outages for hundreds of thousands of people.
Richard Kemp
(The Telegraph UK) Killing thousands of people and unleashing untold environmental damage by blowing up a hydroelectric dam is unlikely to give the slightest pause to Russia’s new supreme commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, if he thinks it will bring him military advantage. President Zelensky has suggested that is exactly what Surovikin has in mind to counter a potential Ukrainian breakthrough that threatens defeat for Russia around Kherson.
… Surovikin now faces his greatest challenge: putting an end to Russia’s humiliation in Ukraine. In an unusual admission for a Russian commander he has said “the situation is tense” in the south, ominously adding: “we will not exclude taking the most difficult decisions”.
One of those decisions will be on the Kherson front which holds the key to defending Crimea. For weeks the Ukrainian army has been pressing attacks against Russian troops on the west bank of the River Dnieper, some of which have been repelled. Surovikin also faces huge difficulties keeping an over-stretched Kherson defence force stocked with ammunition, fuel and combat equipment, partly due to the damage inflicted earlier this month on the Kerch bridge from Russia to Crimea, a major supply artery.
If Surovikin decides he cannot hold Kherson city, he may order a withdrawal to the east of the river and, as well as evacuating civilians, there is evidence that Russia has already begun pulling back military equipment and troops rather than risk the significant losses sustained in the north east of the country. If Ukrainian forces do break through there, one option would be to blow up the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, flooding vast areas along the Dnieper to slow the advance. Zelensky says Russian forces have already prepared the dam for demolition by attaching powerful explosive charges.
The Kakhovka dam holds more than 18 million cubic metres of water. If destroyed it would hurl an all-engulfing wall of water into 80 towns and villages along the Dnieper, including Kherson city with a pre-war population of 284,000, drowning thousands, creating a deluge of refugees, depriving the whole of southern Ukraine of its water supply, dangerously cutting off cooling water to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant and creating severe power outages for hundreds of thousands of people.

Russia’s grip on Kherson slips as civilians flee Ukraine counteroffensive
Evacuation of city ordered amid fears Russian forces may blow up hydroelectric dam at Nova Kakhovka
(The Guardian) The US thinktank the Institute for the Study of War said the urgent call indicated that the occupiers “do not expect a rapid Russian or civilian return” to the city, and appeared to be trying to depopulate it to damage its “long-term social and economic viability”.
Russia’s position in Kherson has looked vulnerable for weeks, but at one point the Kremlin appeared keen to fight for the city, the only provincial capital its forces have captured in the war, and stationed 20,000 troops in and around it.
But Ukrainian successes on the northern section of the frontline in September, including the recapture of Izium, appear to have persuaded the Russians that they can no longer maintain forces west of the Dnipro because their position is too stretched overall.
Ukraine troops say Russian woes could preface pullback in south
(Reuters) – To the Ukrainian soldiers entrenched north of the Russian-held city of Kherson, a recent drop-off in Russian shellfire and armour movements signals that their foes dug into a nearby tree line are suffering serious manpower, supply and hardware woes.
That may mean the Russians are preparing to abandon their defence of the provincial capital and retreat across the Dnipro River, the soldiers said when Reuters visited their positions on Friday.

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