The best way to verify the failure of the current Ukrainian offensive, at least so far, is the discretion and silence of the media. Had the operation gone differently, it would have grabbed all the headlines. But the sad reality is different: the fearsome German leopards have become an endangered species and a reward of one million rubles is given to the Russian serviceman who catches one of these vermin. Rheinmetall’s shares plummeted when the photos of German scrap metal made into phosphatin in the steppes of New Russia began to be published. But the fault lies not with the machines or the brave Ukrainians who dare to crew them, but with their sponsors—those who devised an offensive to satisfy Western investors’ need for victories. Because this adventure was not designed on military criteria—but on marketing.
In recent weeks, the prestigious Western press has discovered that the Russians do not fight all thatbadly, that they seem to know something about artillery and fortification and that they are not just the horde of drunks and incompetents described to us by our “experts.”
Moreover, it has been proved that the Muscovite barbarians have an overwhelming air dominance and are very effective in electronic warfare, even more so than the invincible Americans. General Sergei Surovikin, who took over the leadership of the front line of the Special Military Operation in September last year, is to blame for all this. When this general took command, the objectives of the Russian intervention in Ukraine were partly achieved: the essential one, which was to prevent the ethnic cleansing of the Donbass, and some secondary ones, such as the land link between Crimea and the rest of the Russian Federation, the control of the Sea of Azov and the destruction of the Ukrainian air force and a good part of its army. But the Maidan regime did not fall and the West succeeded in preventing a peace agreement in March and April 2022. Another NATO success was the accelerated rearmament of Zelensky’s battered army. The few Russian troops guarding the front were not reinforced after the April political failure and in August-September the Ukrainian offensives in Kharkov and Kherson took place.
The first one was a success due to the poor coverage of that front, but the Russians managed to withdraw without great losses and after brilliant rearguard battles in Krasniy Liman, where they broke the Ukrainian encirclement twice. The army of Kiev paid for its military success with a very high number of casualties, because Russian air superiority compensated in part for the low density of its ground forces. At Kherson, the Ukrainian offensive was a bloody failure, especially at the Ingulets, where the ford of that river cost thousands of dead in front a Russian line that remained unmoved. It was Surovikin’s fear that the Noya Kakhovka dam would burst and leave his thirty thousand men cut off from communication—which made him to take the most difficult decision of the Russian intervention: to abandon Kherson and withdraw to the right bank of the Dnieper. Political rather than military defeat for Russia and spectacular propaganda success for Zelensky.
Surovikin announced difficult decisions and the Special Military Operation changed course: three hundred thousand reservists with combat experience were mobilized, the front was fortified, the military deployment was given depth and density, and a war of attrition began in which Russian missiles severely damaged the enemy power grid and destroyed Ukrainian warehouses, airfields and military devices. In August, the liberation of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut) by the Wagnerites began and Zelensky took the defense of the city as a personal challenge. After nine months of fighting and repeated refusals to retreat, “Zelensky’s Stalingrad” was conquered by the Russians in May, after causing seventy thousand casualties to the Kiev army. Another important fact: out of every ten Ukrainian dead in Artyomovsk, eight were killed by Russian artillery fire. Nor is it insignificant that, contrary to what usually happens, the casualties of the attackers were lower (about forty thousand, of which there were about twenty thousand dead) than those of the defenders.
There were obvious signs that launching an offensive against the Surovikin Line was madness. But in recent months Ukraine has undergone a mysterious eclipse: General Zaluzhny, the true national hero of that country, disappeared from the public stage and has been seen only in pictures of dubious authenticity. His role in the political and military life of Ukraine has suddenly diminished, which is very important because, undoubtedly, he is the best replacement left for Kiev in case Zelensky’s regime collapses, which is less and less popular among his American sponsors, who are in growing disagreement with the British, the best allies of the current leader. Zelensky has never paid much attention either to military advice or to the human cost of his initiatives. If his heart did not tremble in the Ingulets or in Artyomovsk, neither has it trembled in Orekhovo, nor in the villages of the gray zone: Ukrainian elite brigades, armed and trained by NATO, like the famous 47th, have been sacrificed in an offensive that has barely touched the Russian front line.
More than two hundred and fifty armored vehicles rust before the unmovable Surovikin Line, which reminds us of the excellent tradition of the Russian military engineers, that of Totleben in Sevastopol or the Soviet defenses in Kursk. There is only one difference: Totleben faced an enemy that had far superior armament to that of the backward Russia of Nicholas I. Zhukov’s men at Kursk had Manstein’s Wehrmacht on the other side of their lines. Surovikin faced an army armed and trained by Gayrope, unable to match Russia’s armament production figures. The arsenal of the democracies is stretched to the limit and time is increasingly running on the side of the Kremlin. 2024 is an election year in America and the senile Biden is presenting himself to his electorate with a war he cannot win and which neither Russia nor China are interested in “freezing.” They are in no hurry.
When the Nazi hierarchs were living their particular eve of the apocalypse in Berlin, the news of Roosevelt’s death reached them, which Goebbels immediately identified with the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg in 1761, when Tsarina Elizabeth died and was succeeded on the throne by Peter III, a crowned idiot but a devoted admirer of his uncle Frederick. Old Fritz, who was thinking of committing suicide, made peace with his kinsman and succeeded in pulling Prussia out of the worst predicament in its history. Something similar has happened these days with the Prigozhin Sanjurjada, the product of a power struggle with Shoigu and Gerasimov, which the peculiar condottiero of the Wagner Group has lost. Possibly he knew it long before and his absurd move had to do with a personal solution to the inevitable absorption of his tercios by the Russian command.
A few short hours were enough and the storm dissolved in the warm breeze of the steppe. Despite the popularity of the Wagnerites, all Russia closed ranks with its president, from the Patriarch to the communists. This was not going to be another February 1917. But it was fantastic to see the headlines in the Western press: Putin was already on his last legs; civil war had broken out in Russia; the Kremlin was showing signs of weakness; a full-fledged putsch; a bunt like that of Pugachev.
There was no miracle for the Zelensky Household, the Ukrainian dictator will not recover his luxurious villa in Crimea, nor will the Czech foreign minister go next summer to its beaches (unless as a prisoner of war). Russia, like the Surovikin Line, is stronger than all that.
Sertorio lives, writes and thinks in Spain. this review comes through the kind courtesy of El Manifiesto.
Featured: Kulikovo Field, by Pavel Ruzhenko; painted in 2005.