I have remained silent for some days on anything to do with the conflict in Ukraine, for the simple reason that it has not been clear, or predictable, what might happen there. There is of course no threat of nuclear war, let’s discount that particular furphy at the start. Although when you are dealing with madmen – as we are with US/NATO/Zelensky – nothing can be ruled out absolutely. And it is this very unpredictability of the enemy, for Russia, that has led to this situation. There is only one logical thing, one humanitarian thing, that can be done – no matter what the enemy may make of it. Russia has been left with only one choice. And now, that temporarily painful decision has been made. Having safely evacuated as much of the population of the city of Kherson (and, I suspect, the surrounding region) as wishes to leave under the prevailing circumstances – in return for generous resettlement offerings by the Russians – Russian forces defending the northern parts of Kherson region (North of the river), have now been instructed to also withdraw to prepared positions to the south of the Dniepr.
The west is going to gloat, obviously, and claim this as a great victory, I’m sure. Though on what basis is difficult to imagine. The same basis, I expect, as they have used for the previous two such claims – the Russians withdrew, or fled, or caved. Though only ‘withdrawal’ would form an honest appraisal. Except that the reasons for the withdrawal are different this time. The first two Russian withdrawals – Kiev and Kharkov regions – were because a) no strategic purpose was being served by being there any longer, b) because the troops would be better employed elsewhere. In the case of Kherson, Russia is giving up a strategically important area (no doubt about that) and, while the troops there are facing odds of 2 to 1 against, there are no better odds for Russian forces anywhere along the whole front line – and at no point has there been. Only the conviction that thay are draining the blood of the foreign mercenary supplemented Ukraine forces, over time, makes it worthwhile continuing to stand wherever they are standing (while still gradually advancing in many places) and absorbing casualties at rates of 7 to 9 times less than their opponents.
No, there is something else, some other factor that has brought about this current decision, and it is the likelihood of Ukraine destroying the Kakhovskaya Dam (I’ve mentioned this before), causing devastating flooding to downstream areas and potentially killing thousands of Kherson civilians (and Russian troops) and stranding a considerable army of Russians north of the river. That represents an extreme risk but if the factors leading to it needing to be enacted were to be reduced or removed, it may not even happen. The hydroelectric facility there is part of the Ukraine power system – as much of which Ukraine will need to be operable over winter as possible (if rational minds prevail), and which Russia could also find useful after all this has become history.
There is still of course, the lingering prospect of a Ukraine ‘dirty bomb’ threat, which would have perhaps even more far-reaching effects. That the IAEA was unable to find any trace of such a bomb during their recent visit, means nothing. Of course they wouldn’t find anything, but Russia is still requesting them to keep searching.
All of this points to withdrawal, as a preventive measure, being the only possible path for Russia to consider – in everyone’s interests. The world should be grateful that rational minds still rule in Russia.
Just like the previous two withdrawals from occupied territory by the Russians (this is slightly different since most of this land is now declared Russian territory – and will always be that) the withdrawal from north Kherson is not a Ukraine victory. Neither is it a Russian defeat. It is simply the common sense response to particular circumstances – and that is how it will eventually be seen.
There is not even a hint of Russia giving up on all its objectives for this ongoing operation. Read the article which is the source of the quote below, and be reassured that all is in fact well and good for those Russian prospects, and do not listen to any talk of Russia making any other sort of agreement., There can be no Peace Agreement being even contemplated to be made on any other basis. Ukraine would die, the US/NATO disintegrate, before any such agreement transpired.
“In general, the situation is tense, but understandable and manageable. We are taking advantageous positions, freeing up forces for attacks in other directions, building up our forces through partial mobilization and preparing for the next stage of the SVO.” Perminov concluded.Dmitry Perminov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security
“…preparing for the next stage of the SVO”
This is not a defeat. Nor is it a setback. It is part of the preparation for the ‘Next Stage’.