Pre-Eclipse Ukraine Update

Warfare along the front line in Eastern Ukraine has been un-dramatic. In general, mappers record a slow, methodical advance by Russian Army units in about half a dozen sectors, but no big breakthrough, no uncontrolled route of the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian ground forces have done a competent job keeping the Russians at bay.  The Russians seem to be applying what I call a strategy of aggregate tactics, that is, no huge left hook sort of effort — no theatre scale advance across the steppe kind of thing — rather a composite of smaller actions seeking local weaknesses. The plan would be to overcome Ukrainian capacity to move reserves laterally or to universally maintain supply. Position and maneuver in the aggregate. Maybe it has worked, but Ukrainian coup d’oeil and underground castrametation have seemingly served well. That and cheap drones. The warfare has imposed a high price in materiel and lives on both sides. Now, however, the price paid by the Ukrainian civilian population has skyrocketed (so to speak), as the Russians started to dismantle the whole Ukrainian energy grid. Russian strategy-making always has deception built-in, and I won’t hazard guessing exactly what the deception is. But the basics remain and so the breakthrough is likely to come. Sadly, on the geostrategic level, it looks more and more as though the Russians have teamed up with the Chinese against the USA. A worse result for the USA I cannot imagine. I still predict a future Ukraine much smaller than shown in a 2010 world atlas.

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7 Responses to Pre-Eclipse Ukraine Update

  1. Carla Marks says:

    I appreciate your answer, but I’m sure Justice Holmes would have given a more pointed response that truly answered the heart of my question. I fail to see in any world how the Russian government is somehow deceiving/impacting the United States by a war where their citizens are boots on ground while the US is merely sending aid. How is this a winning psychological warfare strategy?

    • Holmes Oliver says:

      I appreciate you back, Carla. Thing is, I don’t quite understand your question/assertion. I don’t see a world where the Russian government is deceiving/impacting the United States by the war. Maybe we just agree? Please clarify your position by answering the several questions I pose to you below and I for my part will try not to offend the ghost of Oliver Holmes with a lame answer. 1. Why do you think that the Russian government decided to embark on the Special Military Operation? 2. Why do you think the Biden regime has been so dedicated to giving aid to the Zelensky government? 3. Do you think that the US government and NATO countries should save the Zelensky government? 4. Do you think that the 2015 borders of a Ukrainian state are essential to European security, or can Ukraine be a smaller territorial entity?

      • Carla Marks says:

        Oliver Homes thanks you. For some clarity, my question came from your statements that “ Russian strategy-making always has deception built-in, and I won’t hazard guessing exactly what the deception is. But the basics remain and so the breakthrough is likely to come. Sadly, on the geostrategic level, it looks more and more as though the Russians have teamed up with the Chinese against the USA. A worse result for the USA I cannot imagine.”

        This reads to suggest that it is your opinion the Russian government has some strategy to deceive the United States through its war with Ukraine. If that is your belief, then I would like to know how you think this is the case and how this is actually a beneficial tactic for the Russian government.. If this is not your belief then we may be in agreement.

        As to your questions for me, I do not like to give my opinion on subjects I do not entirely understand. I would prefer to sit on the questions team for now and not the answers team.

        • Holmes Oliver says:

          Ah. Thanks for the clarification. I see my mistake. (A typical mistake, mundane, not creative or cool.) I unintentionally conflated levels of endeavor. I meant that Russian military thinking, their military strategy-making, what we might call ‘strategy’ or ‘operations’ or ‘tactics’ depending, always includes deception. Anyhow, at some scale, which depending on the writer might be called ‘statecraft’ or ‘policy’ or ‘geostrategy’ or I dunno what because I hate PoliSci anyhow, the Russians probably do not want to deceive us. I don’t know what they think about how our government officials think or even if they are sure what US government officials are really doing the relevant thinking. I know I don’t. It seems to me that Putin has little respect for Biden (how could he?), certainly no more than Obama has for Biden, but I doubt Putin thinks Biden is doing the thinking. So there is that. On the other hand, we should not distance the higher great-game stuff too far from the logistics/fighting/shooting/moving stuff. I have to suppose the Muscovites would try-want to deceive any CIA Zelensky handlers or Ukraine ground force commander handlers, if they are those who they think they consider the they in all this confusion I’m right here building into the sentence on purpose this time. The question cannot be, ‘Are the Ruskies deceiving?’ The question should be ‘Are they better at deceiving than we are?’ Oof. I think too many of our military leaders have become good at deceiving us, not good at deceiving the enemy. Over time, the online GIS mappers are telling the real story. It sure looks like the Russians are not deceiving when they say they are gonna take a big chunk of Ukraine and will have most of the say as to what is left.

          Which brings us to your last paragraph and the age-old and related question of sandbagging — exercised by you. You know plenty. Feel free to express. No sweat. Be on the questions and the answers teams without worry or mercy. You cannot make more dumb or dumber comments than yours truly. Electrons they are so cheap. I make them feel even cheaper.

    • Holmes Oliver says:

      Also, but as a secondary note, your last sentence is “How is this a winning psychological warfare strategy?” That sentence threw me off some. To what and whom do you refer with the ‘this’ in that sentence? The Russians? Their actions? I, for one, do not think there are many winning warfare strategies that are solely or even principally psychological. I think PSYOP is valuable — a strategist should always attune to the psychologies involved. Things physical should be our priority in most situations. Placing our enemy in a physical quandary is just about always the best psychology. Pushing the enemy beyond his risk distance (culminating point) is both a physical and psychological goal. If we can make him think he is beyond his culminating point without the physical reality thereof — very clever we and what a chump he. That is an unlikely condition, however, and if we begin our strategy-making upon a notion that our enemy is a chump, our disrespect might bite us in the butt. If, on the other hand, we manage to change the physical reality such that he reasonably believes he has passed his culminating point, excellent. The Russians? Not chumps. They are creating in the minds of the Zelensky regime a psychological reality based on the actual physical destruction of the Ukrainian military and economy. So…are the Russians mounting a winning psychological warfare strategy against Zelensky and the ‘West?’ Oh yes, yes indeed they are. The ‘West’ is now saying “we will fight on in order to get a better negotiating position for the peace talks.” This the Westerners are saying even as the stupid gullible childlike Russians continue to change facts on the ground in their favor. Oh, and those dumb Ruskies are getting stronger militarily while they are at it.

  2. Carla Marks says:

    How is dragging out a never ending war with Ukraine impacting/deceiving the United States? Yes, the United States has been sending aide, but no matter what, loss of life cannot compare.

    • Holmes Oliver says:

      Guessing that your question is rhetorical, I might agree with you, Carla. As far as I can tell, the territory of Ukraine doesn’t have any salient strategic significance for United States security. I think we have been pouring money and diplomatic cache onto what we should see as an intramural fight, and we are doing so mostly to protect some illicit money schemes, that is, to protect guilty corruptionists — ours and theirs. Maybe also at play is some bureaucratic thinking stuck to what we’ve already spent there — sunk-costs inertia — from within our intelligence deep state. In any case, fueling the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians by invoking their patriotism (and, somehow, ours) is angering. We need to stop that. If our friends in eastern western Europe feel threatened by Russia, that’s sad. Spending billions on other peoples’ territorial concerns while simultaneously abandoning all care for our own territorial integrity is pretty much the modus operandi of our current American leadership regime. Not a fan. I couldn’t tell from your comment. I hope you are not suggesting that our sending ‘aide’ is saving lives. Saving lives with artillery shells? One really has to know what one is doing strategy-wise to pull off that trick. Our leadership seems about as competent at such strategy-making as the dude who got defenestrated by Longshanks in Braveheart. I for one hope Trump gets the chance to throw the whole lot out seventh-story windows in Foggy Bottom and Langley. I also have to wonder at the ‘mobilization’ debate that has been leaking out of Ukraine but never thoroughly covered by our worthless outlets. The Ukrainian government, as I understand it, just expanded the cohort of young men who can be conscripted from 27-year-olds and older to 25-year-olds and older. Think about that. We have for the longest time put that age at 18. To me, the numbers should draw the question of “national resolve” into the spotlight. Our woke college students waving Ukrainian flags does not compensate for the voluntary absence of Ukrainian young men. And, yes, I completely understand why those young men might prefer to not be sent into a wasteful meat grinder. They are much more likely — given the relative cultural, physical and emotional distances — to have better, more accurate insight as to the strategic truth than say, well-meaning progressives.

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