5 October 2022
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
Politics

Ukraine wins some, loses some, as France, Greece and Turkey plan Mariupol rescue

Ukrainian territorial defense soldier camouflages his weapon.

Wow, what a day! Let’s treat this as a recap. 

Thanks to Russia, cats and dogs are working together with the French, to do something that should’ve been done weeks ago.

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The key here is that French President Emmanuel Macron hasn’t told Vladimir Putin yet. This isn’t some bullshit drawn-out negotiation. France, Greece and Turkey are working together to make it happen, and France will tell Putin, not ask for permission. Putin might threaten in return, which would lead to a standoff. Russia could blockade entrance to the Azov Sea. The whole area is heavily mined, so relief ships would be in great danger. Any evacuation would lead to shelling of the refugees making a run for the waiting ships. And Russians might try to block any escape, for fear of Azov members and other Ukrainian forces blending in and getting out. So this is by no means an easy operation. But so glad it’s being worked on. 

Kyiv/northern front: No territory changed hands. Artillery battles playing out in NW Kyiv, while another Russian attempt to break through Brovary on the northeastern side was repulsed by Ukraine. Makariv was declared liberated a couple of days ago, but Ukraine reports heavy fighting continues around that town. 

Kharkiv/Sumy/Northeast front: Ukrainian forces pushed Russians out of two villages east of Kharkiv, offering some relief to the besieged city. In Sumy Oblast, Russian forces are once again on the offensive, though no territory changed hands. 

Donbas front: Russian troops made gains in their efforts to fully encircle Izyum, gaining about 10 kms of ground to its southeast. This town is critical for both resupplying Ukrainian forces in the region, and because the Donets river that runs through the middle of the city creates a natural barrier to the Russian advance. Russia is most active on this front, and it’s clear they’re going to redouble their efforts here. Mariupol hangs on. Taking the city is costing Russia dearly, by the looks of all the destroyed equipment and dead bodies (drone footage, but forewarned) on Twitter and Telegram.

Mykolaiv/Kherson/Crimea/South front: Ukraine was confirmed to have liberated Snihurivka and Novovorontsovka in the region. 

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Top-right arrow is Novovorontsovka, bottom-left is Snihurivka. Ukraine liberated both today.

With Snihurivka taken (the bottom arrow), that’s a lot of Russian forces cut off to its northeast, though no one (aside from the Ukrainian and Russian armies) really knows what’s left up there. I’m torn between rooting for Russia to have pulled back, allowing Ukraine to roll up that territory with minimal loss, and having Russian forces trapped up there, easier pickings for the defenders. Regardless, that weird, under-resourced, and always doomed effort reaching out to Kryvyi Rih is officially over, just when I had finally learned to spell that city’s name without looking it up. 

To stress again (as I did in a previous update), the New York Times report that Ukraine had a presence in Kherson was utter bullshit, a mangling of a Pentagon report that Ukraine was now challenging Kherson Oblast, the administrative region. And it’s doing so, as far as we can tell, by shelling Kherson’s airport, currently occupied by Russia. The traditional media has done a great job covering the refugee and humanitarian crisis, but an abysmal job covering the military side. Don’t assume they know what they’re talking about just because they’re The New York Times or other such mainstream news outlet. 

If you haven’t caught Mark Sumner and me discussing the war this week, check it out:

Meanwhile, I’ve been saying that Russia’s weakness would embolden violence in the central Asian countries it has meddled in. For example, Armenia holds disputed territory in Azerbaijan, held with the help of Russian “peacekeepers.” Well, so much for that peace. 

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Russia’s fall from grace will embolden not just an effort to retake many of these disputed territories, but could also spark new violence in some of Russia’s hinterland regions. Indeed, it might even be in China’s interest to quietly prod some of those along. Expect a lot of violence in the years ahead now that the myth of the Russian Bear has been shattered. 

Other Ukraine updates today: 

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