Reports have been confirmed and rumors of Ukrainian advances continue. In Mark Sumner’s last update, he gave up trying to post an accurate map. There is no one who can move at the shockingly fast rate of Ukraine.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I will try to collect the advance. Right now, we’ve probably liberated 3,000 square kilometers since Monday, and the rate of advance by any organized opposition in the Kharkiv direction, in the northeast of the country, remains undetected. I’ll update with some rumors below, but for now, I want to focus on:
Donetsk is the capital of Donetsk Oblast, where the Russians have spent eight years trying to push Ukraine away.
In 2014, frustrated by an Orange Revolution that ousted the Kremlin puppet in Kyiv, Russia launched its first coup against Ukraine, using proxies to create two “republics”—the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR). started a war
For whatever reason, Russia did not take advantage of Ukraine’s then-corrupt and hopelessly external military to inflict deep damage, and the conflict continued over the next eight years until this February invasion. Nevertheless, the two fake Donbas republics served to destabilize the regime in Kyiv, providing an artificial obstacle to NATO membership; The alliance will not accept new members with internal territorial disputes. If Russia had concentrated its entire war effort in the Donbass in February, pushing toward the administrative borders of those oblasts, there is a good chance that the West would have largely stayed out of the conflict, as they did with Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea. did during Instead, Vladimir Putin overreached, just one of a myriad of mistakes that have led Russia down such a disastrous path.
Another one of those mistakes – Russia never bothered to make its own pieces of Donetsk and Luhansk economically, leaving them economic basket cases. Russia’s indifference was not particularly noticeable—Russia does not care about the economic conditions of its citizens outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg—but no Ukrainian, even Russian speakers, knew what was happening in Russian. Why would pay attention to this- occupied Donbass and think “I need something That.” Indeed, Russia leaned on WWII fetishization and grandiose imperialist claims to instill pride in its subjects.
Yet this war is not the same as the Russian-occupied Donbass. The two proxy armies suffered untold numbers of war dead and wounded. The LPR has a population of just 400,000, and the DPR has 2.3 million—compared to the rest of Ukraine’s 30 million. Yet men up to the age of 65 have been forcibly conscripted.
Do these warriors look like warriors? Those helmets are old, and the rest of their gear is OMG.
These souls are likely dead, maybe in Popasna, or Izyum, or one of those ridiculous “search by fire” efforts around Dovenke. You know—Russia sends a team of proxy cannon fodder to see if there’s resistance in a town. If so, they will all die. But whatever, Russia saturates the situation with artillery. When done, they send the next team. Rinse, paddy, repeat, until one team makes it to the new grid marker and dies. Start the process again.
That is why Russia has moved so slowly. This is not an efficient or effective way of waging war. Yet Russia has mostly made sure to shield its troops from this meat-grinding tactic. It’s Donbas fodder that gets thrown into that wood chipper.
Check out these sad sacks, lucky enough to be caught up in the Kharkiv attack this week:
What do they care about Izyum or Kupyansk or Vladimir Putin? They are watching their comrades die for a war they never asked for, their lives of no consequence. And there are many stories like this:
A mother living in Donetsk said in an interview that her son had initially avoided conscription because he had completed his military service earlier.
“He wasn’t the fighting type,” she said, recalling he would tell her: “Mom, I can’t kill a person.” But in April, he said, he was picked up off the street, put on a bus and taken to a recruiting office, only to call his mother in time and ask her to bring him some personal belongings. “They took him to the recruiting office, changed his clothes, changed his shoes and took him to the base and then to the battle,” he said.
He was killed a few weeks later. “I think he probably didn’t kill anybody in the end,” he added. “He hasn’t got time.”
There’s a reason I take no pleasure in seeing pictures of dead Russians (with the exception of the Wagner mercenary)—so many are like this kid, trying to avoid being sucked into Putin’s meat grinder. If it is them or Ukrainian soldiers, then of course, the choice is clear. But the best case is that they surrender or quit. And we’re seeing more of that lately.
There are reports that entire units of Donbas conscripts are abandoning positions or surrendering en masse in both the Kharkiv and Kherson fronts. And while skeptical at first, the evidence is becoming more and more clear as Ukraine moves through the vacant posts, and more and more pictures of POWs emerge.
What’s more, notice in the video above that they take notice of the robbery. It’s not just that their officers are corrupt criminals. They rob because They don’t have those things back home. These Donbas residents have been propagated by Russia that they have it better than the rest of Ukraine. Yet they step on the line, and people have Washing machine. Yes, the memes are funny, but they also speak to the huge disparities between Ukraine — which, remember, The second poorest country in Europe—and in the Donbass and Russian hinterlands.
So given the choice, why would they choose to live in a place that doesn’t value their lives, that drags them into a fight they never asked for, that prepares them for it? And treats them so badly, and it’s obviously economically damaging?
A Ukrainian liberation of the entire Donbas seems inevitable at this point. There is no man left to resist.
So what are the possibilities:
- A local Orange Revolution in those two places, ousting pro-Kremlin puppets and promoting bloodless reunification with the rest of Ukraine.
- Unorganized mass surrender, Ukrainian troops move in, some local troops resist, others throw down their weapons and gear and go home.
- Negotiated surrender. We’ve seen the Taliban take this tactic to great effect in Afghanistan, and there are rumors that Russian and Ukrainian commanders are negotiating Vovchenko’s surrender on the Russian border. There is an evacuation of Russian residents and allies. Once completed, Russian forces can only return to Russia. The same could happen here in the Donbass, with Ukrainian commanders negotiating Ukraine’s entrance into Donetsk and the rest of the Donbass.
- More war Maybe those disaffected Donbas troops have been propagandized to believe the horror stories about the Ukrainian regime, and they fight for their home turf like they wouldn’t fight for the rest of Ukraine. Possible, but seems unlikely.
Funny, I wrote the meat of this story on Friday, and planned to run it on Sunday to give myself a little breather and time. But given how fast things are moving, it’s a very real possibility Already happening, and that the Ukrainian flag may fly over Donetsk in short order.
This is, of course, a best-case scenario. But the myth of Donbas’ superiority has been shattered, and there is little reason left for anyone except Moscow’s stooges to look east for the region’s future.
Reconstruction of Ukraine will cost hundreds of billions. Given the fractured state of the Russian-held Donbass, rebuilding that part of the country could cost even more.
Rumors have Ukrainian soldiers outside the gates of Vovchank, north of it:
Remember, during Ukraine’s first Kharkiv counteroffensive a few months ago, we dreamed of coming within range of Ukrainian artillery. either Kupyansk or Vovchansk? Both were critical supply centers, and either crippled the Russian war effort. It didn’t happen then, but now, Ukraine will soon get into it physical Control of both.
Without the Kharkiv promotion, we would be thrilled 400 square kilometers were liberated in Kherson. The poor boys are overshadowed.
Antonovsky bridge is reusable—Russia today moved to supply trucks during austerity. Ukrainian sources say they allowed it to be half-baked on purpose—inviting Russian and proxy forces to leave on foot. Heavy equipment will not cross it.
If Jews were not responsible for everyone else’s evils, imagine how much personal responsibility people would be forced to bear.
RT’s Margarita Simonyan is one of the Kremlin’s most notorious propagandists. We have seen him in many videos against the Nazis in Ukraine. All of a sudden, they are all bent?
Yes, we know where this is all going.