Monday, 6 March 2023 — The van says…
When even ‘Jihadi’ Julian Röpcke begins to doubt Zelenskiy, it becomes obvious that the Ukrainian leader is losing international support as fast as his troops are giving up ground.
As covered in this article, the fall of Artemovsk (Bakhmut) is imminent, Russian forces now closing in on the center of the town. Notwithstanding the blatantly obvious, Ukrainian president Zelenskiy is demanding that his troops not retreat, this causing amazement and the shaking heads from observers around the globe. This piece will examine how obstinacy on the part of Kiev will lead to further suffering.
All or Nothing; All for Nothing
The Battle of Bakhmut as it has become known in the West is one of Kiev’s linchpins as it attempts to blunder on in the face of Russian advances. For months, Western audiences have been regaled with tales of apparent Ukrainian valor, the defense of the town becoming an emblem of the country’s resilience. Whilst on one hand, this has kept the war, and therefore support for Kiev in the public conscience, when the town falls, this means that the defeat and the burgeoning hopelessness of the cause is equally apparent.
Just as with many dictators of the past, even when faced with crippling losses or the inability to succeed, some leaders place personal success before plain common sense. As we shall see, Zelenskiy has even crossed swords with General Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over the issue. Any military professional knows that the situation is lost, yet Zelenskiy is willing to throw away thousands of lives just to keep Artemovsk in Ukrainian hands for a day or so longer.
Blut Für Boden
Although this is blatant paraphrasing of a Nazi-era slogan, a combination of Zelenskiy using the blood of his troops to forestall the inevitable loss of ground and there being so many right-wing nutjobs in the ranks of the Ukrainian armed services, this saying sums the situation up very well indeed. For us to understand this better, we must look closely at how the situation is developing.
Before looking at the happenings on the ground, we need to gain a glimpse of two crucial characters who have allowed matters to reach this point. The first is Zelenskiy, and to this day, many still do not realize that prior to his election in 2019, his career path had only been as a television comedian. We used to laugh at how an actor such as Ronald Reagan made it to the White House, yet forty years later in the Ukraine, a comedian has done the same. Unlike Reagan however , Zelenskiy has never completed any military service, this putting into question his ability to form strategy regarding matters such as those which face him today. A comedian is calling the shots, yet the results are no laughing matter for those who have to suffer their consequences.
A General as a Junior
Zelenskiy naturally has a chain of command, he needing to brief the military hierarchy of his intentions. His point man in the military is General Valeriy Zaluzhny, the C-in C of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, he having served 32 years in the army. Just as with any four-star general who has decades of experience, he is conversant with not only the planning of operations, but also in evaluating the pros and cons of any given situation. It appears of late that with the Artemovsk arena being an absolutely lost cause, his calls to retreat have been harshly rebuked by the president. Not only is this a serious affront to his professionalism, it is a needless death sentence for innumerable Ukrainian servicemen.
The battle has already claimed thousands of soldiers, many of these being élite troops or highly-trained specialists. This has meant a huge effort to press untrained and unsuitable men to fill their boots in-theater, these being little more than sitting targets for the Russians. As the quality of the soldiers decreases, the attrition increases exponentially; a tragic situation has turned into a catastrophe as Zelenskiy doggedly refuses to see sense.
The Last Stand
Both Russian government troops as well as those of the Wagner PMC have been on the outskirts of the town for weeks. As documented in this article, until recently, this has permitted the Russians to fight under very favorable conditions, Moscow’s men destroying the Ukraine’s material and manpower resources in the defense of a now-irrelevant town. The Kremlin does have broader plans however, and as strategically beneficial as this engagement has been, it is now time to take the town before looking to future operations.
The Lost Land
As the Russians have slowly encircled the town, this has meant that Ukrainian men and machines now have very great problems either entering or leaving Artemovsk. This situation has not happened overnight, the noose slowly tightening around the town over a period of weeks. Today, it is effectively cut off from the logistics it needs in order to defend itself, yet in spite of the inescapable truth confronting him, Zelenskiy refuses to allow troops and equipment to at least attempt a withdrawal.
In spite of starting this war in the first place, even Washington’s warhawks are now admitting that the Ukrainians have lost Artemovsk. As much as the White House wishes to harm Russia in any way it can, there comes a point where it becomes impossible to support an operation that has so obviously failed. Biden and his cronies will doubtlessly keep pumping the money and military means to Kiev, but it now appears that even the Yanks have given up on this arena, they choosing to use the town as a symbol for media purposes rather than for strategic military value.
The truth facing both Kiev and Ukrainian ground forces is now so obvious that even Zelenskiy’s erstwhile supporters are beginning to doubt his strategy. Julian Röpcke has been one of the most vocal anti-Russian journalists of the last decade, yet rather than risk his reputation backing an absolutely lost cause, even he is now backtracking on his former endorsement of the Ukrainian leader. When such avid Atlanticists as Röpcke are walking away from Zelenskiy, the failure of Artemovsk as well as Kiev become all the more apparent.
As much as Russia wishes to push further westwards, it will still not pass up the opportunity to make some final easy gains as the town is finally taken. This action has bled the Ukrainian war machine white, and a myriad of resources that could have faced Moscow’s men in later battles have now been destroyed. The Kremlin may wish to move, but preventing the enemy moving today will help the Russians to put Kiev in checkmate tomorrow.
Some may equate a Ukrainian retreat from Artemovsk with its Russian equivalent in Kherson last year, yet the two operations are completely different. Faced with difficult logistics and a possible mass counterattack by the Ukrainians, General Surovikin made the organized withdrawal onto the left bank of the Dnieper River one of his first decisions after taking command. This led to an orderly retreat with few if any losses. The debacle in the Donbass on the other hand is merely the result of pigheadedness on the part of the president, a dire situation being turned into a disaster under explicit orders from the top.
Common sense and respect for those fighting on Kiev’s behalf would have seen Zelenskiy listening to his generals and arranging a withdrawal weeks ago. A lack of military experience coupled with a stubborn streak that has now cost thousands their lives means that other than a symbol, the bloodshed has been for nothing.
Military men from both the East and West know how to act when presented with a situation, yet recent months have seen Russia molding their plans around the inflexibility of Zelenskiy whilst Kiev has bent and buckled under the pressure exerted by the Russians. All the while, professional military men around the world have looked on aghast.
This war started due to the West wishing to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, yet events in Artemovsk have seen the Ukrainian president fighting with his generals; it would not be unfair to say that the end of fighting in Artemovsk may cause the fighting to begin between the president and his generals…
2 thoughts on “Senseless Stubborn Slaughter”
I am surprised that Zelensky is still a) in the job, and b) alive. He must be surrounded by people who know how bad the situation really is and how much death and destruction his stubbornness is costing the country.
Any rational person in Kiev knows that Ukraine cannot win against Russia. It won’t even be able to cause a stalemate, it will end up suffering a huge defeat.
What seems to be missing here is mention of how Biden/the US is controlling Zelensky and not allowing him to offer peace. As I recall he wanted to do this early on in the game and the US nixed that. Non-stop funding of the war and goddess knows how much money for other investments were offered to him to keep him on the US board.