Ukraine counterattack: the curtain that protects the dignity of the Russian army has been pulled back

The curtain that protects the dignity of the Russian army, which is certainly not the second most powerful army in the world, was pulled out.

Russia’s withdrawal from Kharkiv – a planned “regrouping” that some state media did not dare to mention – is arguably more important than its previous collapse of attitudes around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. These units were dug for months, effectively defended their positions – as witnessed by CNN during his weeks along arterial roads north of Kharkiv – and were sometimes minutes’ drive from the Russian border.

Moscow’s inability to maintain a force painfully close to its own territory speaks volumes about the true state of the supply chain and the military. It’s as if these retreating units are back in the void, not the nuclear power that predicted in February to overrun its neighbor within 72 hours.

Second, the Russian units do not seem to have carried out a careful and cautious withdrawal. They ran and left behind armor and precious ammunition supplies remaining. The open source intelligence website Oryx estimated that from Wednesday to Sunday, it left behind at least 338 combat aircraft, tanks or trucks.

Pockets of Russian forces may remain to harass Ukrainian forces in the coming weeks, but the nature of the front line has changed irrevocably, as has its size. Kyiv is suddenly fighting a much smaller war now, along a greatly reduced front line, against an enemy that also appears a lot smaller.

Indeed, the Russian army now relies on forced mobilization and prisoners for their depleted ranks. Ukraine was quite a surgical operation, hitting the supply routes to cut off already depleted units, discovering the least prepared and qualified ones. It was amazingly efficient and fast.

& # 39;  Everyone was running away.  & # 39;  Ukrainians in the villages of Kharkiv describe the decline of Russia

Whether Ukraine’s counterattack is decisive depends on how well its forces are now able to pay: Will going into more territory risk stretching excessively? Or is Ukraine facing an enemy that no longer has a fight? No matter how exaggerated Russian forces were during the chaotic decades of the U.S. War on Terror, an army that needs North Korean shells and convicts in St Petersburg is at best minimal in force to protect Russia itself.

What’s Next? Unless we see a marked reversal, Russia’s attempt to seize all of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is over. Kherson remains the epicenter of constant Ukrainian pressure. Suddenly, a return to the frontier that Russia stole in 2014 doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Photo of a Ukrainian soldier on September 12.

For several months, the prevailing wisdom was that Russia “never let this happen.” But now Crimea seems strangely vulnerable – it is connected to Russia by the land corridor that runs along the Sea of ​​Azov through the Mariupol coast, and an open bridge across the Kerch Strait. What remains of Moscow’s enlarged, exhausted, and ill-equipped forces deep in Ukraine could face the same deadly blockade as the supply chain around Kharkiv did.

Despite Kyiv’s endeavours now, we have witnessed a drastic change in the dynamics of European security. Russia is no longer a counterpart to NATO.

The Kharkiv disaster is Putin's biggest challenge yet.  He was left with few options

Last week, Russia was no match for its armed neighbor NATO – a force mostly in agriculture and information technology as recently as December – which it has been slowly tormenting for eight years. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday that elements of Russia’s 1st Guards Tank Army – an elite unit aimed at defending Moscow from any NATO attack – were part of the chaotic Kharkiv withdrawal. They ran.

Defense budgets of NATO member states have been slowly moving toward the proposed 2% for years. But would those billions really be needed to counter an army that needed shells from Pyongyang after just six months in Ukraine?

& # 39;  Without gas or without you?  Without You: Zelensky's Words to Russia as Ukraine Sweeps the Northeast

It would also be wrong to misinterpret the silence within Russia – with the exception of some critical analysts, politicians and talk shows – as a sign of a residual force about to unleash. This is not a system capable of looking at itself in the mirror. The Kremlin remains quiet on these issues because it cannot meet the chasm between its ambitions and rhetoric, and the scruffy hungry mercenaries that seem to have left them stranded around Kharkiv.

The fact that they don’t talk about their mistakes amplifies it. The Ferris wheel that President Vladimir Putin opened in Moscow over the weekend does not become invisible when it fails to turn. The same can be said about the homogeneous and relentless force that Putin is trying to demonstrate: when it collapses, it’s no secret.

Ukrainian forces enter the main city of Izyum in a sign of the success of the new Kyiv offensive

The glaring foreign policy mistakes of past centuries were born of hubris, but Europe now faces a series of glaring choices. Will they keep pushing until Russia demands a peace that leaves its neighbors safe and opens its energy pipelines again? Or do they maintain the old, faulty logic that a wounded, humiliated bear is more dangerous? Could a potential successor to Putin — not as we know him — seek detente with Europe and prioritize the Russian economy, or will he prove his worth in another hard-line act of brutal militarism?

This is also a key moment for non-proliferation and nuclear power in the post-Cold War era. What does nuclear power do when it is weak and lacks convincing conventional power? Russia faces no existential threat now: its borders are intact, and its army is hampered only by a monstrous adventure in choice. But it seems close to the limits of its conventional capabilities.

It would be a clear confirmation of the theory of mutually assured destruction that has always governed the age of nuclear weapons, if weapons that could end the world as we know it remain off the table. It would also add to the possibility, raised again by the full support of Ukraine by the West, that the horrors of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine have done irreparable damage to the West’s moral and strategic compass, and are still not naive. Hope to see those values ​​in action.

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