To all those who may be dooming or wildly rejoicing. This war is not between Russia and Ukraine. This is not even war, this is a special military operation and for good reason. Let me elaborate. First things first this struggle is between American empire and Russia, not Russia and the west, and certainly not Russia and Ukraine. The empire chose to precipitate matters maybe as an example for China or to have Russia defeated before attacking China. Regardless why, what was intended was for Russia to come in all guns blazing takeover all of Ukraine in short order and THEN get mired in a long bloody insurgency loosing men materiel and treasure. The freezing of assets and overwhelming sanctions would then further deteriorate the internal conditions such as that political instability would set in finally resulting in regime change. Russia could then be raped dismembered devoured by the empire at leisure. This is why the special military operation is a special military operation and not a war. The objective here is not simply to defeat the Ukrainian army, it is rather designed to bring maximum damage to the empire while keeping the costs for Russia manageable. The Russian campaign is running on simmer being careful not to let the situation boil over at any point. The pace of operations is glacial on purpose. The longer the conflict is drawn out the more harm the empire and it's allies will endure. Their policies will result in self inflicted pain, their hubris will not let them walk back to more sensible positions. The empire is trapped in a pit it has dug, its allies are mere hostages. Is there a point of pain that can be reached where the citizens of Europe may demand of their leaders to revolt against the empire? Who knows if such a point exists, if it is reached this winter or the next? However there is another sphere where the battle is taking place and that is in the nation's that are not in the hallowed west. Here in the nations some poor and some not so much an evaluation of prospects is being done. Siding with the west is safe from reprisals but in the emerging economic scenario might be tantamount to suicide. Even the dimmest leaders know their fate if they fail to keep their citizens fed and supplied with essentials. Considerable shifts have already materialised and more are sure to follow as things get tighter. The empire potentially losing European allies or losing influence across the globe are far more valuable objectives than a quick roll up of the Ukrainian army.

On the tactical side the Ukrainian leadership continues to throw it's troops onto prepared Russian defences and continues to suffer unfavorable casualty ratio of at least 1 to 5 if not more. Can Ukraine continue this frivolous behaviour for another six months a year two years? Can they continue to be supplied for as long? Can the West ,will the west continue to foot the bill to keep Ukraine running and fighting? How many more Ukrainian refugees will Europe accomodate? 10 mln?20 mln?

Russian aim of denazification will be accomplished either by destruction on the contact line of those willing to fight or by emigration of those unwilling to fight.

Demilitarization will be complete once the western support dries up. Almost all Ukrainian military industrial enterprises have already been destroyed and whatever remains on the field will eventually be destroyed.

In the meantime we may see many Russian retreats and setbacks to give the enemy glimpses of victory, to keep him fighting and dying. In any case Kiev has no other option, for the fear of losing support, neither do their sponsors who are ideological bent on destroying Russia.

A multi pronged combined arms high intensity manoeuvering operation would be interesting to watch for purely academic purposes, however if the preceding hypothesis is even somewhat correct then we are going to have to wait a considerable time before this special military operation terminates.

P.S. Also of equal interest are the actions of the empire.

How far will they go? How do they extract themselves if

they ever do?

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Thank you .

Logic and saving lives is the good enough reason to withdraw....

I appreciate your work, thank you for keeping the Russia related posts free to us.

The perspective you bring gives clarity and a concise analysis of difficult situations.

Rock on.

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Well, I am not sure if the issue is to be popular. I rather try to understand what is going on and MSM is really constructing a huge fog of propaganda.

Anyway, Serge, there is another answer to Odessa move - from Andrei from the Saker: “Another option might be to move not West but North and then turn West to basically take all the NATO defenses around the Black Sea coastline from behind.”

As for optics.....it is commented right from the beginning of this operation that Russia is bad at PR. The question is who is the recipient of this PR? The West? Then, one can say that Russia simply does not play by those rules.

THANK YOU for your analysis.

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I think MacGregor is right. Russia wants to end the war; since US/nato are not agreement capable, there must be a crushing win. But they can't start until the ground freezes enough to support the vehicles, & it may not do that on the south coast regions.

I live in midcoast Maine, right at the 44th parallel, roughly same as Kherson. It is mud season now & there is no guarantee the ground will freeze in any given winter, never mind freeze enough to hold heavy vehicles. Eg, I usually can bring in a few thousand pounds of hay between Christmas & New Years, but some years I can't & have to move my car outside & use my high & dry garage for hay storage instead. The trend in recent years has been for later freezing, and not freezing. Or freeze - thaw - refreeze, but never deep enough for the hay truck. Probably similar over there.

Russia is building up heavily in the north in Belarus, as well as fortifying the south. The Kherson soldiers are getting a rest. The northern, inland areas will freeze for sure. They can close in from the north, the west & maybe also the south.

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I was waiting for your analysis. Now to read it 😎. THANK YOU!

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I am not going to make myself popular, but Russia has two choices. Either devote enough troops and resources to win (and the sooner, the better, as winning will only get more difficult with time as the West continues to lavish weapons, training and money on Ukraine) and accept that there will be significant casualties along the way, or sue for peace on whatever terms Russia can get.

This "war by half-measures" is not working and has not been working for a long time now.

This is not difficult.

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The third option only came about because of timing.

MSM released the news about the call knowing that the retreat was coming in the next couple of days to give the illusion that the US intervened. It also fits the pattern of giving Zelensky the script of we’re good to “negotiate” with Russia now. No such deal.

I agree that it was the correct military decision. Problem is Russia in the last 2-3 months has ceded a lot more territory. You don’t win wars by orderly evacuations.

This is a War. A war against NATO no less. A War for the very existence of Russia. It’s time for all of Russia to treat it that way.

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Surovkin corrected the stupid mistake of entering swampy ground with your only supply lines being river crossings. And Surovkin is turning out the lights and heat throughout Ukraine. The next task for Surovkin is to cut the West's supply lines into Ukraine.

The Russian forces staged in Belarus are going to come in shooting along the Polish border - not like the first time when forces came to Kiev and just sat there doing nothing. Ukraine will be starved of weapons, is now being starved of electricity, and in a few months Donetsk forces will push west and southwest all the way to Odessa. Ukraine will not exist in the year 2024.

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The Russians ain’t rushin’.

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I find it refreshing to see accurate operational and strategic analysis. Thank you Serge! Tactical mind-sets, such as Dima (Military Summary Channel, YouTube) and not rarely Bernard at Moon Of Alabama, are most unsatisfactory these days.

If I may elaborate from my neck of the woods, so to speak:

Geo-strategically and geo-politically, The USA is an island nation whereas Russia is a continental nation.

The problem sets for each are fundamentally different.

The USA is in the more dangerous position, in fact, because her internal wealth and relative safety tempt her to overreach and overbear.

Spiritual disorder far more vitiates a nation’s strength than does physical danger.

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Thanks as usual for these well argued posts.

I'm getting increasingly pessimistic about the direction of this SMO. Russia has been supposedly degrading Ukraine's offensive capability for months, yet they're so afraid of their current potential that they abandon what is now Russian territory? I really don't understand this.

Given Russia's superiority in artillery, air power, drones, tanks and every other sort of weaponry, what is there to be afraid of? Can't the forces in Kherson be supplied by helicopters and air drops if worst came to worst? I would think that Russia would have had the capability to decimate any frontal attack by Ukraine, and indeed, would relish it given their advantages. Surely keeping hold of Kherson would have pinned masses of Ukranian troops worried about a push to Nikolayev

My opinion after the Kharkov region debacle, was that the Russian military leadership was incompetent; this latest move adds to that assessment.

The fact that only now there is an overall theatre commander also indicates that prior to this appointment, the SMO was an ad hoc operation, which, quite frankly, is insane.

My other thought is that there has been a deal made, as Russia has reached the culmination of their efforts; they have been exposed as a paper tiger. This will only embolden NATO to push for their complete capitulation. Pursuing this strategy of half-measures was a failure.

I hope I'm wrong and that the Russian military is far more capable than we've seen thus far, but I won't be getting my hopes up.

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You give as reason for rejecting option 3: "I find this unlikely for a variety of reasons. First off, such a deal would represent an extremely pyrrhic Russian victory - while it would achieve the liberation of the Donbas (one of the explicit goals of the SMO) it would leave Ukraine largely intact and strong enough to be a perennial thorn in the side, as an inimical anti-Russian state. There would be the problem of probable further Ukrainian integration into NATO, and above all, the open surrender of an annexed regional capital".

I agree. But this is exactly the reason why option 4 is deeply problematic too, yet you do not mention it there! I would argue that overall there might be short to medium term tactical reasons for abandoning Kherson west of the Dnieper but there are huge longer term strategic disadvantages that far outweigh the shorter term ones.

I also do not agree that this was a decision made by a general. Decisions of this import are always made by the top political leadership, Putin and his circle, and it is clear (given that preparations were being made well ahead) that this preceded Surovikin's appointment and was almost certainly made clear to him that it was a condition of his appointment (hence his effectively preparing the ground for it in his first address, before he would have been able to make a detailed appraisal of his command).

Oh, and taking your argument that it was the supply difficulty across the Dnieper caused by Ukrainians bombarding the crossings that was the major tactical reason for this withdrawal, can you please explain how it is that the Russians have not touched the Ukie bridges across the Dnieper, despite having vastly more powerful missiles that could easily destroy them completely? And I understand there are only 6 really critical bridges! This would make it impossible for the Ukies to supply their vastly greater forces in Eastern Ukraine, and leave them stranded there. So if that is the reason Surovikin withdrew why does he not do this? Once again, it is because Generals don't make decisions like that - its the political leadership that does.

So in trying to explain the Kherson decision, maybe you might focus on why the Russian political leadership (and not Surovikin) decided on this withdrawal and why they have decided they won't attack the Ukies bridges across the Dnieper? Could they be related; many people are beginning to think so.

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What humiliation? Given your analysis, which is very persuasive, Russia did the right thing. Even the uber Russiaphobe Max Boot agrees with your analysis as he admitted in his Nov 9 opinion piece in the WaPo that Putin was not mad after all. The best outcome for the SMO would be for Ukraine to finally realize that the collective west, in which they have placed all their faith, is not coming to the rescue any time soon (beyond supplying diabolical weaponry with which to commit suicide). The provocations of the collective west over several decades have only led to the bear lashing out in anger. Better admit that Russia has legitimate security concerns and act accordingly. Nothing that Russia has asked for is unreasonable.

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An excellent article. AS the old saying goes "all the cards are still on the table":. Ukraine will for its own good will in time unite with Russia as they have been for centuries.

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Taking this analysis with a pinch of salt as Big Serge has a habit of downplaying Ukrainian gains

"But regarding the general trajectory, I am confident predicting that Ukraine’s offensive is nearing the high water mark and will soon become a mass casualty event for the Ukrainian army. It may take a few more days for the situation to stabilize entirely, but that point is rapidly approaching and many of Ukraine’s best units face destruction."

Which was said mere hours before Izium was retaken, he then claimed THAT was the high water mark. Currently Ukraine has retaken Lyman and is probing Luhansk, which according to his initial analysis was impossible. Chances are Ukraine has retained it's offensive capabilities and with the Kherson front frozen can redeploy it to the Luhansk Oblast.

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Considering how the civilian 'evacuation' probably coincided with the retreat I think it's likely the Russians used the citizens of Kherson as meatshields to allow their retreat to progress. Knowing that Kyiv would not willingly shoot it's own civilians on purpose.

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