Media Criticism Patrick Lawrence Russia-Ukraine

Patrick Lawrence: Why Are the Russians Retreating in Ukraine?

A still image taken from a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry purporting to show Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, right, listening to Gen. Sergei Surovikin, left, at the Joint Russian Forces command center in Ukraine on Wednesday. Credit...Russian Defence Ministry/EPA, via Shutterstock
A still image taken from a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry purporting to show Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, right, listening to Gen. Sergei Surovikin, left, at the Joint Russian Forces command center in Ukraine on Wednesday.Credit…Russian Defence Ministry/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost

The most opaque war in my lifetime and probably yours, the war we can hardly see because the reporting is so bad, just took an unexpected turn. There must be someone somewhere who anticipated the retreat of Russian forces from Kherson, the key Ukrainian city along the southern end of the Dnieper River, but I haven’t run across such a person. Russia’s move certainly came as an abrupt surprise to me.

How shall we understand this development? What comes now? As we attempt answers, it is important neither to underestimate nor overestimate the significance of Russia’s withdrawal from the only provincial capital it has held since its intervention began last February.

The New York Times ran a piece covering this development last Thursday. It is worth reading for some of the detail the reporter included; it also has a map of the Kherson region and a useful photograph of the Dnieper River that shows Kherson City on the west bank and the east bank opposite, to which Russian troops have retreated.

Straight off the top, it would be incautious to conclude that Russia’s pullback across the Dnieper represents a dramatic turn in the course of the Ukraine conflict. We heard this kind of thing last summer, when the Armed forces of Ukraine made swift territorial advances in northeastern Ukraine. The AFU is beating back the Russians, we read. Victory is suddenly within the Kyiv regime’s grasp. Only gradually did it emerge that Russian forces had abandoned the northeast and the AFU had shadow-boxed an enemy who was no longer there.

No one seems to be trying this one on in the Kherson case, which is wise. There was no “Battle of Kherson,” no Stalingrad revisited, as Ukrainian propagandists have put it about in recent weeks. As of Friday morning there were no Russian troops left in Kherson, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, and none in the surrounding region on the river’s west bank.

I don’t see any caviar-eating surrender monkeys here. This looks like a tactical retreat ordered by people who study maps, not newspaper headlines. Based on what we know, it is likely to have little impact on the long-term course of the war. In my reckoning, the odds are no more in Kyiv’s favor now than they were a week back.

Let there be no question: The Kherson withdrawal is a far bigger deal for Russia than the events to the north last summer. Russian forces took Kherson early in the war because it was key to advancing elsewhere, notably to Odessa, the historic, significant Black Sea port. Kherson is a big shipbuilding center and was founded in the 1770s by Grigory Potemkin, Catherine the Great’s lover and empire builder. So, practical value and cultural and historical significance all at once.

I was immediately interested to note how Moscow announced its decision to pull troops out of Kherson. This was last Wednesday, when Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, conferred with the Russian military’s top officers. Among these was Sergei Surovikin, the general who was named the overall commander of the Ukraine operation just a few weeks ago. 

Here is the strange thing. Shoigu’s meeting with his top uniformed officers was broadcast live on Russian state television. Neither President Vladimir Putin nor any other civilian official was there. A photograph released by the Defense Ministry showed Shoigu listening intently as Surovikin, leaning over a map with pencil in hand, appears to explain circumstances on the ground to his boss. This photograph is also in the Times piece. Shoigu and Surovikin are both in olive drab.

The decision to withdraw was difficult, Surovikin said, but it would preserve the lives of servicemen and the combat readiness of forces: “In the current conditions, the city of Kherson and nearby settlements cannot be fully supplied and function.” Shoigu thereupon gave his order to withdraw.

What is conveyed in this odd, evidently ritualistic way of announcing a shift in military policy?

Neil Macfarquhar, a Times reporter who had a tour in Moscow some years back, wrote a piece Friday under the headline, “When It Comes to Bearing Bad Tidings, Putin Is Nowhere to Be Found.” Putin, the wily coward in political trouble, was his theme. But during his time in the Moscow bureau, MacFarquhar proved the sort of correspondent who could find darkness in a First Communion ceremony. He once covered a Putin press conference by noting that the Russian president wore an expensive watch. Always a sign of evil, an expensive watch.

Setting this kind of amateur nonsense aside, it seems to me the message Shoigu and Surovikin sent is pretty clear: This was a strictly military decision taken on the basis of conditions on the ground with no regard to—I detest this phrase, but here you go—the optics. 

As to Putin, it seems he has come under fire from the hawkish wings of Moscow’s political firmament. This is nothing the Kremlin will welcome, but we must bear in mind: Vlad the Horrible is in fact a liberal Westernizer in the Russian context, or was until Washington threw a custard pie in his face, and he has been fending off his nationalistic right flank for years.

Conditions on the ground, as we all know, are difficult to discern. But three of them seem to have been on Surovikin’s mind. One, while Ukrainian forces were not making significant advances toward the city, they were shelling it with increasing intensity, as was their wont during the eight-year artillery campaign they waged against civilian areas in the Donbas region—the campaign we are supposed to forget about.

Two, Russians have been increasingly worried of late about signs that the AFU had plans to bomb the Dneprostroi Dam, a huge Soviet-built hydroelectric complex upriver from Kherson. Any such action would flood the city and claim many thousands of civilian lives.

Finally, Surovikin, a no-nonsense military man with a reputation for considered but confident decisions, was concerned about the potential isolation of Russian troops on the Dnieper’s west bank. This was his point as he spoke on Russian television about supply lines. Some media reports suggest Surovikin judged extending Russian troops across the Dnieper a mistake from the first.

In hindsight—so often offering insights one should not have missed—there were signs of Russia’s intent from the moment Surovikin got his command. He immediately warned that “difficult decisions” may be in the offing, though without reference to Kherson, which many observers, your columnist included, took to be nonnegotiable as a forward Russian base. Now it is clear what he meant.

Other things started happening soon after Surovikin took over in Ukraine. A large proportion of Kherson’s civilian population—apparently not the entire city—was evacuated. Then Russian soldiers began removing statues and other Russian-related cultural artifacts, including Potemkin’s tomb, out of the city. This was looting and grave-robbing in Western media accounts. When we consider what Ukrainians and other East Europeans do these days to monuments honoring the Soviet Union’s sacrifices in World War II, it is simply prudence and respect for history.

All signs of what was to come.  Now to signs of what is to come.

One, there is Surovikin’s concern about protecting the combat readiness of the troops now regrouped on the Dnieper’s east bank. Two, there is the vast call-up of Russian reserves announced last summer: I read some 80,000 of the 300,000 reservists to be mustered out are already in place in Ukraine. Three, there is Moscow’s claim—respect it or not, it is a “fact on the ground”—that Kherson region is Russian territory now and Kherson is the provincial capital.

I add one and one and one and get this: It is very likely Surovikin, who is putting his own plans and people in place like some new-broom corporate CEO, has taken one step back prior to taking two forward. I don’t think anyone too far from the Russian high command can say when, but the signs just enumerated indicate that a major new offensive is in the offing at some point in the new year.

As previously predicted in this space, we hear more and more talk of diplomatic negotiations these days, sometimes coming from interesting quarters. On Friday The Times reported that Mark Milley, Joint Chiefs chairman, has joined the chorus. “What the future holds is not known with any degree of certainty, but we think there are some possibilities here for some diplomatic solutions.” The White House immediately distanced itself from Milley’s remarks, sounding the Ukraine- for-Ukrainians bell once again.

This looks like choreography to me: You put out the idea of talks, General, and we’ll deny any such idea. Then we’ll have the thought on the table but Kyiv can’t hound us about it.

The above is pure speculation, but this is often, too often, what we’re left to do in this war—and with a foreign policy that is well more than half submerged. We have not been told in straight terms what Washington’s policy toward Ukraine has been since Washington cultivated the 2014 coup that set this mess in motion. And we are not being told now.


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Patrick Lawrence
Patrick Lawrence

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a media critic, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon siteHis Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored without explanation.

42 comments

  1. Thank you Patrick! Once again your clarity at acknowledging the western claim to certain Russian defeat in Ukraine is a breath of fresh air. The pundits in the west especially the so called military analysts have been wrong on virtually every count as they proclaim their own military brilliance far from a battlefield they seem to know little about. The sad end of this whole affair remains to be written but one thing is clear it will not be what NATO and its sycophants think it will be, one way or another Europe will awaken from this nightmare recognizing that it rejected its own possible destiny of peaceful, cooperative existence with a Russia that could have been a friend and an ally for a warmongering alliance that has created nothing but misery and suffering due to the hubris of the United States and its refusal to deal honourably with Russia and its people who have a proud history and culture. They are not the barbarians but the western warmongers who expanded NATO right to the borders of Russia are and who hatched the Maidan coup to force an impossible situation upon Ukraine and its people. Hopefully, diplomacy and negotiation will emerge sooner than later!

    1. Jeremiah: Well said! I totally agree with your comments!

      And Patrick, I’m bequeathing to you the Sherlock Holmes Award for Logical Thought and Reasoning,
      (Don’t look for it, as I made it up), but the accolade will come from other readers of your latest post, deservedly so!

      Yes, Surovikin and Shoigu are level header military “thinkers” and the withdrawal from Kherson is not a retreat as if the troops were overwhelmed and had no choice but to “pull back,” or risk total defeat.
      Part of their plan, for sure. Contrary to the continuous lies by the presstitutes in big corporate media,
      and the so-called over-paid analytical thinkers in the Pentagon, time will tell the fate of that city and region.

      Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, for another unbiased (a compliment) well-reasoned assessment on the latest news item in Ukraine and thank you Scheerpost for printing it.

      1. I strongly agree with Frank. That was a fine article.

        Russia has a long history of stoic pragmatism; plus they’ve got a pretty good reputation as chess-players.

        America on the other hand, has a habit of falling in love with it’s propaganda, to the absurd degree of belief.

        Those old Greeks showed a real knack for scale and reason when they laid hubris as the cornerstone of tragedy.

    2. As usual, a very accurate and informative analysis, particularly the emphasis on the Russian preparations for withdrawal which have been going on since (probably) as early as September. This is not a “defeat” for Russia, just a military maneuver. Wars of of conquest are about taking territory. This is not that kind of war: it is basically a defensive war in which maneuver is important. It is like aerial combat, multidimensional, with the victory depending on situational awareness, constantly changing. The “defeat” in Kherson reduces Russian vulnerability while increasing that of the Ukraine. At the same time, the Russians have been successful along the rest of its now strengthened front line. Not that it wants the war over quickly. The longer the war goes on, the greater Russian success globally.

      As you can find out here https://julianmacfarlane.substack.com/p/kherson-the-defeat-that-wasnt

  2. “Vlad the Horrible is in fact a liberal Westernizer…”

    Well… if by “liberal” one means ‘neoliberal oligarchy’, and “Western” one means ‘gangster capitalist’.

    But it‘s not really worth much to quibble over specific labels, most of which have been battered beyond meaning.

    As I look at the Ukraine/Russia war, what defines it is what has defines most wars… a battle to determine which group of ‘elites’ will profit handsomely from the extraction of resources, and labor, and lives, from which population. It remains to be seen whether the Ukrainian gangster capitalists, or the Russian gangster capitalists will prevail. The U.S. military-industrial complex is already a ‘big winner‘. The people of Ukraine and Russia are the only sure victims – they merely await the final resolution to determine who they will be exploited and abused by over the long term.

    1. If by the people of Ukraine – you mean the people of what USED TO BE Eastern Ukraine, then you are correct. But they have been suffering under a terroristic and genocidal war, for more than eight years, now. They’re happy to see the Russians riding to their rescue, finally. And they’re also happy to finally be free of the poorest, most corrupt and malignant government in Europe.

      Russia didn’t want this war. They tried to avoid it, for 8 long years. But the US Strategy is spelled out pretty clearly, in the RAND CORPORATION’s 2019 study on “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia”… Luckily, Vladimir Putin is an experienced Judoka… he doesn’t allow for overextension or unbalancing.

      As Zelensky started putting forward the public stance that Ukraine would “join NATO”, and get Nuclear weapons…he sealed his country’s fate. William Burns (the current CIA Director) wrote a memo, in 2008, when he was the Ambassador to Moscow. The title was “NYET means NYET!”. In it he laid out clearly, all of the Russian redlines, that we began deliberately crossing, under Obama. And we’ve never stopped, since.

      The Russians made one last overture towards a peaceful resolution in December of 2021. The US and UK laughed in their faces. Well…Russia is going to have the last laugh, it appears…as the Regime changes spread across the West, not the East.

      The people of Russia aren’t being abused (anymore than the people in any other capitalist country, who are still following WHO/IMF diktats).

      Up until recently, the only people suffering in Ukraine, have been the Russians in the South and East (aside from the victims of the Nazi torture techniques and assassinations, carried out by the SBU, against those deemed insufficiently “loyal” to the Kiev Puppet-regime. See: Bucha). That is only changing because Ukraine and their backers have adopted terrorist tactics, with bombings of the Kerch strait bridge, the Nordstream pipelines, and the ongoing targeting of civilians, in what are now Russian territories – and even some attacks into what has always been Russia. The Russians have changed their tactics, somewhat, though they still refuse to sink to the level of their opponents, who commit Warcrimes without any concern for consequences – since they enjoy the impugnity and immunity from prosecution afforded to NATO forces, and their proxies.

      1. Another+WorldView+Is+Possible!! Wow, I am so impressed by your canalizes, absolutely and totally agree with your with every single word ….

      2. David Graeber, “The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make and could just as easily make differently.”

        I couldn’t agree more with your reasoning and comments. AFU Nazis are using Einsatzgruppen to ‘cleanse’ every area of suspected Russian ‘sympathizers’.

        Winston Churchill: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’

        Winston Churchill (1944): ”I have left the obvious, essential fact to this point, namely, that it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the [Nazi] army.”

  3. Thank you, Patrick.There are so few in the Empire of Lies and Hatred!!!! (see Pepe Escobar and the Saker!) who can even think of giving any credit to the Russians for anything. Your measured response allows thought and not panic.

  4. The Kherson retreat is a Russian defeat because it means their Stavka can’t protect Russians or Russian territory. After 8 months the Stavka failed to realize the strategic importance of the region as a beachhead into Bandera Nazi heartlands. They failed to cut Zelenskiy’s logistical throat using this essential launch pad. Instead Russian Command indulged in stunts around Kiev, Sumy, and Kharkov. Russian Stavka accepted combat on battlefields, with tactics, chosen by US-NAYOYO criminals to cause the most damage to ethnic Russian areas and cities.

    The Stavka failed to construct Kherson defensive works to protect their troops from shelling and infantry attack. They failed to muster the troops to win this war quickly. They failed to find and destroy AFU artillery units. They failed to construct logistics routes. All actions that the AFU was more than capable of doing around Donetsk and everywhere else in eastern Ukraine. To protect the Nova Kakhovka Dam from destruction, Russia ceded control completely to AFU criminals. Now AFU command can shift the units used for this ‘attack’ to reinforce their eastern battlefields. They left the Kharkov Front unprotected to reinforce Kherson which also failed to protect the Kherson Oblast.

    Battle scene videos show Russian artillery impacts all over the fields while AFU units use treed field borders to screen and camouflage their units. Russian artillery is incapable of accurately, repeatedly, hitting field borders, earthwork trench and bunker systems, moving columns, supply units, artillery, and radar sites. Russian artillery must fire tens, if not hundreds, of shells for every AFU casualty. Obviously thinking WWII massed artillery barrages would win battles for them, when modern warfare demands pinpoint accuracy. Russian Stavka isn’t even capable of supplying correct artillery ammo: air burst anti-personnel frag rounds, and, delayed fuse penetrating rounds to collapse trench systems. Russian artillery can only plow the ground.

    Stalin’s stupidity nearly lost WWII. This stupidity continues today.

    1. You should try looking at t.me/intelslava . You’re going to see lots of footage of Russia running up the casualty counts against Ukrainians (and Poles and NATO soldiers and Mercs wearing Ukrainian uniforms) in those Tree’d borders between fields. The Russians are inflicting casualties at rates of between 7:1 and 10:1. They’re saving their forces, as they grind out the long war. Kiev was a ‘feint’. It pinned Ukrainian forces down while the Russian forces liberated most of Donetsk, and Lughansk. Once Bahkmut falls there’s little to stop them, if they want to drive towards Kiev, or encircle the UkroNazis attacking Kherson.

      The Russian economy and geopolitical standing is stronger now, than before. The EU, UK, and US are collapsing economically, and are running out of munitions to send to their Nazi shock troops.

      All told, Russia looks to be winning, handily.

      1. It’s funny that Mr. Lawrence, after castigating Western war reporting, admits to his utter surprise at the Russians’ flight from Kherson. Perhaps if he’d paid a little more attention he would not have been taken unawares. For weeks now, the reporting I’ve followed has described a Russian army west of the Dniper in deep trouble, their supplies of fuel and ammunition fatally interdicted. What a coincidence that the baseless corporate propaganda of Western media just happened to get it right again!

        Mr. Lawrence’s effort to minimize the strategic importance of the Kherson collapse makes no effort to explain why the Russians valued it highly enough to risk crossing the river in the first place. Perhaps he can put his talents to work on a plausible excuse for the Defense Ministry to include in the notices they’ll be sending to Russian mothers whose boys died defending such a strategic nothingburger. Another “feint,” maybe…

  5. One thing some of you so called supporters of putin and his useless army in the west still believes in Russia military power. Russia will never change the out come of the war on the battle field in Ukraine. No matter which general and amount of men they put in Ukraine will not change the our come of the war. Russia have lost the war and there no amount sacrifice thst will change that. How many general have not change in the war? This new general will make no difference. Ukraine is fighting for its freedom, and will defend their country and freedom with their last blood and man. Mark this I am in some part of Africa. RUSSIA WILL BE DEFEATED, AND RUSSIA WILL BREAK UP AS A NATION.

    1. Haha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha… Etc.

      The CIA/Kiev Ministry of Trolls is better than most stand-up comedy, these days.

      Good luck with all of that.

      Russia already killed Bandera once… Like Ghostbusters2 or The Empire Strikes Back – the sequel will likely prove more entertaining than the original.

      1. You’re rockin’ today, Another+World! Good reply!

        Can anybody tell me why the former comedian of the Ukraine is wearing that olive drab tee shirt?
        Isn’t he the “selected (by the US and the North Atlantic Terrorist Organization) at the capitol building in Kiev, and not in the forested area? What’s the purpose? Naw, don’t tell me.

    2. I think you mean; they will fight to the last man, woman and child for the freedom to be exploited by the Western neo-liberal banksters who want nothing, but all of the Ukrainian resources left after the outcome of this war is finalized. “Ukraine is fighting for its freedom” get real, they last what little freedom they had in the 2014 coup by none other than the “freedom” loving USofA!

  6. Brian B. has anticipated this “retreat” and has been predicting it since three weeks ago, now, and has published his interpretation of events on his YouTube channel, The New Atlas. Check it out, specifically from minute 13 – 20:

    https://youtu.be/dH-0e4WA8Pc

    He does a good level-headed analysis using info from mostly Western sources.

    Peter

  7. I must say, it is a pleasant change of pace to see such a lucid, balanced and rational analysis of the conflict in Ukraine, featured here in the SheerPost. Patrick Lawrence seems like a good pick-up, to add to the team.

    This is certainly better than the multitude of Russophobic wish fulfillment, that we’ve seen, coming out of Tom Dispatch and IPS.

  8. Why they withdrew is much more complicated than it seems. The question is much closer to question why police left crime scene.

    What confuses people is unrecognizable by most fact that this NATO Russia proxy war is not war between nations. Russian oligarchic elites like US/EU elites do not want to conquer Ukraine.

    That epoch passed into history as globalism entered it .

    They both want to socioeconomically and politically control it so they may exploit it on global markets to become more competitive.

    So it is not a war aimed at total mobilization of human and material resources of a Nation but pure tool of much more broader confrontation resulting from fierce competition for control of nearly exhausted global resources.

    After over two decades at this point such competition among globalists is nearing level of conflict between western and eastern oligarchy fighting for right of expansion onto each other territories of influence and control. At this point it is zero sum game.

    West was always open about that and in fact Chinese and Russia promised them such expansion in 1990s. However as eastern elites discovered such western designed. oligarchic expansion would have been detrimental to their own elite political control which was grounded in eastern social and political culture.

    Dismantling such eastern cultures would destroy political legitimacy of eastern oligarchic regimes and that is why it is fiercely opposed resulting in new Cold War rhetoric of western belligerence, threats, intimidation and blackmail, methods well known from western colonial times.

    The true objective of western campaign is to dismantle Chinese and Russian and even Indian states weaken respective oligarchic elites so they finally submit to western control with even more disastrous consequences for population irrelevant for globalists.

    War in Ukraine is in fact a side show in this global conflict among elites also because it is not a war but SMO aimed from the beginning not to change regime in Kiev but only to force negotiations assuring Russian economic, military interests guaranteed by the west.

    Moscow called at UN for peace negotiations for eight years and even on first day of SMO operation using its advancing troops as negotiating tool, not a tool of war aimed at defeat of enemy.

    Russian soldiers were told not to interact with civilians at all, if necessary temporarily withdraw to calm people’s protests and instead of arresting left local administrations that were full of SBU and military spies in tact defying fundamental rules of war as it was no regular war in minds Russian general staff but sore of police operation.

    The first Russian strategic withdraw from Kiev area was suppose to facilitate ceasefire and prompt initiation of permanent negotiation panel that would have separated into subgroup issues of NATO, neutrality, nukes, Kiev vs EU, Kiev ceding of Crimea with reparations and status of LDPR where a sort of reintegration as special autonomous federal republics into Ukraine was still on a table in March. Instead NATO puppet masters took it as weakness and demanded Russian surrender instead.

    The question is who authored the SMO concept in dealing with western Kiev regime and presented it to Putin as painless and effective way to assure Russian interests in Ukraine .

    Now it is clear after predictable total failure of such negotiating approach that it was pro western Russian oligarchic faction as it was them who were spared western wrath of phony official western sanctions that resulted in no measurable harm to them. In fact they had record profits in 2022. US deceptively exempted critical Russian commodities from its sanctions on national security grounds incentive.

    The three needless withdrawals from Kiev, and then Kharkov, Izyum and now Kherson areas, with no real fight were also rumored to be part of some kind of NATO/US negotiations.

    Since then what we have is inconsistent and contradictory Russian rhetoric and substantial loss or credibility of Russian general Staff regarding assertions of AFU military readiness and ultimate goals of entire operation.

    Kherson unforced withdrawal while militarily less significant is the first one with real strategic economic consequences of endangering Crimea water canal liberated in March 2022. It is real loss.

    That is really bad omen when commanding general talks of saving lives like a police captain would have talking about SWAT team operation. It means Surovikin is delusional about reality of war he is fighting blinded by now defunct and failed to achieve its solely negotiating outcome SMO.

    Putin should have ended SMO in March as negotiations failed, call for easy mobilization 500,000 and begin real war if he wanted to win it.

    But apparently Putin emboldened by his unequivocal success in defeating western powers in economic war did not want to end it quickly since AFU was already defeated and instead let AFU rebuild by the west to buy time to dump all older Russian missile systems inventory on western supplies and prolong fighting as a excuse for huge ongoing now Russian military modernization while real negotiations among global oligarchs stalled and rhetoric sharpen.

    Putin should finally admit and act accordingly that whole western effort is aimed to remove him from power and dismantle Russian federation and hence end resulting negotiating position of perceived weakness that emboldened so far worse neocon and fascist scam in EU and Ukraine and became PR disaster. In other words Putin should quit being globalist or let Russian Federation collapse.

    1. “The first Russian strategic withdraw from Kiev area was suppose to facilitate ceasefire and prompt initiation of permanent negotiation panel that would have separated into subgroup issues of NATO, neutrality, nukes, Kiev vs EU, Kiev ceding of Crimea with reparations and status of LDPR where a sort of reintegration as special autonomous federal republics into Ukraine was still on a table in March.”

      “The three needless withdrawals from Kiev, and then Kharkov, Izyum and now Kherson areas, with no real fight were also rumored to be part of some kind of NATO/US negotiations.” To me it makes sense though. Thought I heard this explanation on Political Misfits, but now I can’t find it.

      I don’t know about a “pro western Russian oligarchic faction.” Going too fast would have risked nukes usage.

  9. Lol. I’m pretty sure we can find some financial trail from Moscow to your bank account. What’s load of propaganda crap.

    1. Regardless of to whom you’re addressing that ‘Ad Hominem Tu Quoque’ fallacy – it seems unlikely that what you’re suggesting is true. If it is – go ahead and do that, and come back to us with the receipts, cancelled checks and bank statements. And even then, it wouldn’t definitively disprove anything that was said.

      It just sounds like you’re so accustomed to the familiar Disinformation, coming from the CIA/Kiev Puppet-regime’s Ministry of “Truth” (and all of the information in the Corporatist Western MOCKINGBIRD press, inevitably traces back to the same pathologically lying sources, that gave us the “Ghost of Kiev” and “Snake Island Heroes” hoaxes) – that anything which corrects and contradicts it is disregarded as “propaganda crap*.

      How was what was said incorrect? Do you have any alternative information or analysis, that credibly contradicts it? How so, and what is it? We’re all on the edge of our seats, waiting for the answers.

  10. The AngloEuroZionist mainstream media and their stooge pundits crow loudly over every temporary Pyrrhic victory “won” by their stupid Ukie proxies, while demonstrating a profound ignorance of history and strategy and reality.
    Surovikin is nothing if not rational. Given a choice between precariously holding on to Kherson city (which can and will later be recaptured when the reinforcements come) and preserving the lives of Russian soldiers, he has chosen his soldiers. This echoes the much higher stakes situation of 1812 when General Kutuzov had to choose between Moscow and his army and chose his army. He allowed Napoloeon to march into Moscow which had been stripped of any and all resources to support the French, who eventually had to withdraw, enabling Russian forces to recapture Moscow. The Russians slaughtered the French as they withdrew. Today’s Ukie/NATO forces are tactically and strategically far more stupid than Napoleon.
    Remember the “massive victory” of Ukies advancing into Kharkov oblast empty cow paddocks not long ago? The Russians had staged a tactical withdrawal* and suffered almost no casualties, but drew the Ukies into open territory where the Ukies were sitting ducks to Russian artillery and rockets. The Ukies lost 6000 to 7000 dead. With such a great “success”, it is just a matter of time before the Ukies suicide their way to moribund victory.

    *this was a classic Mongol tactical “withdrawal” which the Kievan Rus had learned from history to their great cost, and now inflicted upon the stupid Ukies to their great cost.
    BTW, Kiev was founded by the primordial Rus, it was the first capital city of the Russian people. That is historical fact.

  11. Patrick:

    Time is on Russia’s side. As long as the Russians can dissuade the US/Ukraine from some kind of nuclear or chemical false flag, NATO does not have an army that can match the Russians. Remember that Ukraine was the largest army in Europe, trained and armed by NATO, and is now exhausted and demoralized, aside from foreign mercenaries. The fact that Russia has control of the skies cannot be over emphasized: it means the Russians can strike with impunity if they wish to. What are my sources for these assertions? See military analysts such as Scott Ritter, Col Douglas Macgregor, Larry C Johnson, Andrei Martyanov. thesaker blog and theDuran news channel. Consider one of Macgregor’s recent articles in The American Conservative:
    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/playing-at-war-in-ukraine/
    or Larry C Johnson’s about the readiness of US conventional forces
    https://sonar21.com/if-you-think-the-united-states-is-ready-for-a-conventional-war-with-russia-or-china-think-again/

    To take a step back, the greater conflict is an ideological one between neoliberalism or finance capitalism and social welfare states , including industrial capitalism, as economist Michael Hudson has eloquently argued: see https://michael-hudson.com/ . The parasitic finance capitalism practiced by the West is not interested in social welfare, but speculation that often hurts the very society and economy it profits from, weakening society and making it vulnerable to stress in the long-term.

    Even if the neoliberal elites in the US and Europe succeed in pillaging Russia and China, as happened with the Soviet Union in the 1990s, like a parasite it would exhaust one host, only to require another.
    I thought that the US military was immune from the neoliberal program, but like all other areas of society, it was also sacrificed for profit. Not only does the West rely on Russia for resources and China for manufacturing, but they are so dependent that to exile Russia or China means death for the West. Neoliberalism will not allow the US to invest in infrastructure and re-industrialize without cutting corners and profit-seeking. The inability of the US to balance social investment and care with the interests of those in power is why time is on Russia’s side, and Eurasia is likely to block US attempts to maintain its hegemony. The journalist, Ben Norton, has eloquently summed up our current times:
    https://scheerpost.com/2022/11/11/world-at-dangerous-crossroads-only-two-paths-forward-anti-imperialist-socialism-or-fascist-barbarism/

  12. Was anyone else floored by Biden’s remarks broadcast on NPR this morning arrogantly bragging of his knowledge and claiming that his meeting with China’s Xi Jinping was to explore “red lines”?

    1. I don’t listen to NPR, so no. Pay the demented old fool no mind. He’s been lying and wildly exaggerating his about his knowledge and abilities his entire rancid political career.

  13. “The conflicting objectives between Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin are stark and longstanding. Zelensky desires self-determination for Ukraine — a future in which the people of Ukraine can determine their own political and economic interests. Putin wants Ukraine as a Russian vassal.

    Ukraine wants only what it is entitled to: self-determination, political sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Like other states, it can legitimately defend these rights against illegal aggression. Further, any state has a right to assist Ukraine in its justified self-defense. The Ukraine war is not a proxy war. It’s a war of self-defense and defense of others — both clearly permitted by international law.”

    Nothing says ‘Russian Propaganda’ more than Patrick’s pointed failure to mention the very reason the Russian military cannot safely hold Kherson, namely the advancing Ukrainian liberating army on the city.

    Patrick’s current attempt above at pretending the Ukrainians’ heroic, and successful as of late, efforts to defend their country and sovereignty are inconsequential, in line with the left-ish, Neo Progressive denial that the Ukrainians are even a side in Putin’s colonial imperialism, is becoming harder and harder to maintain, as evident in the convoluted attempt to masquerade Ukrainian victories as Russian tactics in the text above.

    Try as he might, Patrick’s shameful/delusional parroting of Putinesque propaganda would meet similar fate as the last time the left aligned its narrative to the Russians’, resulting in a 100 years of marginalizing its voice by choosing to prompt the greater evil simply because it is not ‘western’.

    1. I totally agree with DGA that: “Try as he might, Patrick’s shameful/delusional parroting of Putinesque propaganda would meet similar fate as the last time the left aligned its narrative to the Russians’, resulting in a 100 years of marginalizing its voice by choosing to prompt the greater evil simply because it is not ‘western’.

      The truth will out. None of us really know much of what is really going on in this horrible war that’s unnecessarily killing so many Russian and Ukrainian soldiers. We don’t actually know the objective facts on the ground and with the winter coming, it’s hard to see how the war will proceed but the arrogance of so many of the commentators thinking they know it all, especially Patrick Lawrence, is a pretty sad commentary on seeking truth through facts.

      Loading…

  14. The article spends a lot of words trying to put a pro-Russian propaganda spin on things and waffling about the reason that Russia withdrew from Kherson. It shouldn’t do the first (as Russia is plainly conducting an unjustified war of aggression in the Ukraine) needn’t do the second (as the reason for the Russian withdrawal is quite simple):

    Russia was successfully forced out of Kherson by military means.

    All that guff about people studying maps and saving conscripts lives boils down to one simple fact: Russia didn’t have any alternative with a better cost/benefit ratio than retreat and it chose to retreat.

    This isn’t to say that it could therefore be counted on to chose the retreat option. Far from it.

    Russia’s well-documented criminal disregard for the lives of anyone up to and including its soldiers is well documented, so the suggestion that it withdrew to protect the lives of its conscripts is total balderdash. Only problem is: if you expend your conscripts you no longer have them, which may present a problem if you had any further plans for them. Expend them for no gain and you may face questions in the constant internal power struggle that characterises Russia’s governing elite.

    There is of course a reason Kherson was no longer tenable for Russia and that is that Ukrainian use of HIMARS missiles over the past few months had disrupted Russian logistics to the West bank of the Dniepr to a degree as to degrade the combat effectiveness of the Russian troops there. Besides which, previous operations had expended so many seasoned Russian troops that the of Russian forces would now have to rely on (ill-trained and ill-equipped) conscripts who could be expected to lose against well-trained and less ill-equipped Ukrainian forces.

    So, in this respect the article more or less gets it right: Russia plans to prolong its illegal and unjustified war in Ukraine and will do so until forcefully expelled from every inch of Ukrainian soil.

    As far as I’m concerned that means more military aid until this goal is reached, after which peace negotiations can start.

  15. Another wonderful article by Mr. Lawrence. Imagine, actually reading/listening to the actual words of Russian political and military leaders, and connecting dots!!
    However, what I find missing from the article, as well as the comments, is any reference to Scott Ritter’s analysis of the Russian military strategy and goals. None better than Mr. Ritter. In fact, why not have him as a regular ScheerPost contributor?

  16. Why waste time trying to reason with zombie-like anti-Russian misinformed misanthropes, but I’ll add one more comment to Patrick’s article, and specifically addressing DGA, Golodh, and Anne Weills then I’m done commenting on it.

    Since you three are convinced Putin and Russians are evil people, it would be difficult to convince you otherwise. You remind of the posse in the novel, “The Ox-Bow Incident.”

    I suggest you reread the article with an open mind if possible. Golodh, Mr. Lawrence is not “waffling” about the withdrawal, as you insinuate. Anne Weills, Patrick is astute, and well informed on what he writes about, as I and others have been reading his articles and books for many years. He is not “shamefully/delusional, parroting Putinesque propaganda.” You, my dear, are parroting the propaganda of big, corporate media and are a dupe of the war-mongering merchants of death in Washington, D.C. Wall Street, the City of London, and Brussels, Belgium, and Hollywood, Ca.

    And if you need some advice on the murderous USA from 1945, do an internet search and read the late, great William Blum’s articles and books (at least the articles, and one specifically, on how many nations the US has attacked, invaded, occupied, and assassinated and or deposed heads of state, etc. etc. since 1945, and also, Professor Michael Parent’s book, “The Faces of Imperialism,” Professor Michael Chossudovsky’s book, “The Globalization of Poverty,” and Stephen Kinzer’s book, “Overthrow” America’s Century Of Regime Change From Hawaii, To Iraq.”

    That’s it.

    1. @FL

      “Why waste time trying to reason with zombie-like anti-[western] misinformed misanthropes,”?

      HEAR HEAR!

      1. Sorry for being so crude in my language, and thank you for being polite in your reply..
        I still stand pat on Patrick’s article.

  17. Excellent analysis. Every time the USA loses, it escalates. Otherwise, the war is over in April, or never started.

  18. @Frank Lambert

    “Why waste time trying to reason with zombie-like anti-Russian misinformed misanthropes […] specifically addressing DGA, Golodh, and Anne Weills […].”

    Well, I’ll admit to being anti-Russian but I reject the suggestion that I’m misinformed. I like to believe that I am anti-Russian precisely because not un-informed about Russia’s history over the past 50 years.

    “Since you three are convinced Putin and Russians are evil people, it would be difficult to convince you otherwise.”

    I am thoroughly convinced that Mr. Putin is evil; on basis of the the cumulative evidence of much of recent history (10 years or so). It would require a load of evidence to the contrary to change my mind, and yes, I’ll admit the difficulty of producing any such evidence. But it’s hardly my fault if no such evidence comes to mind.

    I’d like you to refrain from putting strawman generalisations into my mouth. I don’t think The Russians on the whole are evil. Just as I don’t think that The Germans or The Japanese in 1935-1940 were evil.

    “I suggest you reread the article with an open mind if possible.”

    I did and I arrived at the same conclusions as before.

    “Golodh, Mr. Lawrence is not “waffling” about the withdrawal, as you insinuate.”

    First off: I never insinuated that Mr. Lawrence is waffling about the withdrawal. I claim that he is.

    Secondly, on re-reading I can only reaffirm my charaterisation of the first half of the article as waffling. The entire article reads as one big meandering circumlocution as it veers from oblique allusions to the withdrawal itself to the ‘optics’ of how it was presented, interspersed with vapid theorising. The entire 9 first paragraphs of the article van be summarised in one single sentence: “Russia withdrew from Kherson because it had been put in an untenable positions and had the sense not to close its eyes to the fact (despite nationalist rhetoric)”.

    I’ll admit that Mr. Lawrence echos what mainstream media have already reported, namely that Mr. Putin is doing his level best to disassociate himself from bad news and setbacks.

    Anne Weills, […]You, my dear, are parroting the propaganda of big, corporate media and are a dupe of the war-mongering merchants of death in Washington, D.C. Wall Street, the City of London, and Brussels, Belgium, and Hollywood, Ca.”

    Despite your insinuations, the Ukraine war is generally bad for business. It causes inflation (especially in the EU and the UK), it causes a shortage of energy (in the EU), it puts upward pressure on interest rates, and it causes firms to revise their projected earnings downwards.

    As to the popular pasttime of talking down the US, I’d like to remind you that the reason that an affluent and vibrant Europe could emerge next to the Soviet Union is US involvement.

    In addition, the sole reason that South-East Asia reached it current level of development and affluence is that the US opened its markets to manufacturers in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and China. That one act did more for SE Asia’s economic development than all development aid programmes put together.

    So, can I invite you to look past your anti-US bias for once and adopt a more balanced view?

  19. @Golodh

    On generalizations? The mass hysteria about Russian aggression programmed into the minds of so many Americans and the vassal, subservient citizens of the EU, ready to risk a nuclear war risking destruction of the planet, as atomic radiation knows no man-made boundaries and is why I used the term, “zombie-like misanthropes. I say that with a heavy heart. Don’t take the moniker personally. It applies to all war-mongers. You “assume” I have an anti-US bias. Really? Because I believe in COOPERATION and NOT CONFRONTATION? Presumably, would that be considered a “generalization?”

    “Insinuations about war being bad for business?” I beg your pardon, but war IS GOOD for business, as they supply the weapons and supplies -all the logistical support to keep war going. “Grand Theft Pentagon,” by Jeffrey St. Clair is filled with facts, not my “insinuations” if you think war is bad for business.

    And “That the US opened its markets to manufacturers in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and China. Yeah, we sure did! We moved much of our manufacturing facilities to Asia and also built new facilities over there for cheap, exploitable labor, little or no environmental regulations, and tax benefits galore, as the capitalist philosophy has no national allegiance but the profit motive is paramount. The golden decade of the 50’s in the US saw the creation of what is called the “middle-class” with roughly one third of American workers employed in American industries were unionized.

    I’m not going to elaborate on anything else, so, we had our say in the matter. But I do thank you for the rebuttal. Peace be with you. As the hippies used to say: “Make Love, Not War.”

  20. A fine assessment of the situation.

    Let us view the heart of this tragic debacle in eastern Europe. In the first instance it will be necessary to proclaim on the banner of truth the caution – legality is not morality. Lawyers know in their experiences of their professional practices there are differences.

    It is being seriously maintained in the minds of the juris prudent that what is happening in Ukraine is an act of invasion by Russia that makes necessary the full military and economic forces of the freedom loving countries of the West to take action and repel the malevolent invader. What a load of hogwash.
    Reverse the whole sorry business and you have a clearer idea of what is going on.

    The aggressor is America and its dutiful little buddies like Britain, France, Germany and the likeminded. America, with its provocateurs par excellence, is up to its neck in it. Where there is a threat of socialism she will be there. International law can be invoked or rescinded if necessary. America has continued to be antagonistic towards the communist ethos since the consequences of the Russian revolution in1917 and Ukraine is an example of a country being used primarily to serve American interests.

    It should be a precondition that international law must take into consideration the full context of the event to which it is to give judgement; otherwise, it would be an abuse of justice to see only what you wish to see and ignore actions that should be taken into account. It should be seen that if a country invades another country after being provoked beyond all reasonable measure it is simply acting in her own defense.
    Finally, if we allow international law, by omission, to allow bullying, to allow aggressive behavior, in blatant or disguised form, the law is an ass and deserves the contempt that should be poured upon it.

  21. @Frank Lambert

    “[…] The mass hysteria about Russian aggression programmed into the minds of so many Americans and the vassal, subservient citizens of the EU,”

    I have no idea what you mean by ‘mass hysteria about Russian aggression’. However going by what the Russians have been doing for the past 10-20 years (putting forward territorial claims to cover the territory lost after the USSR collapsed and enforcing those claims by military action) there is more than enough evidence to take an extremely dim view of Russia and to consider it a danger to its neighbours.

    Especially those who have within their borders Russian minorities.

    This view is shared by Finland, Sweden, the Baltic states, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, and other former Warsaw pact members, which gives the lie to claims that this dim view is somehow ‘programmed into minds’. I think as regards the dim view universally held by Russia’s neighbours you are trying to refer to a process known as ‘learning’.

    As to the tacky use of the term ‘vassal’, you might perhaps give some thought to the fact that the US is the only country in the world with both the ability and the inclination to aid military lightweights like Europe keep the Russians out. When Russia attacked the Ukraine most NATO countries were waffling and dithering, and none but the US and the UK contributed significant amounts of the weaponry that destroyed the Russian tanks that closed in on Kiev.

    Besides which, Europeans got a nasty wake-up call a few years ago when Trump in fact told them they were all expendable and freeloaders to boot. After that they have (wisely) and collectively started to take their defense just a little bit more seriously than before.

    Their strategy of ‘Ost-Politik’ and reaching a modus vivendi with Russia, whilst a worthy and worthwhile experiment, has failed. That’s regrettable, but one should learn from that instead of denying it and keeping up teh kettle music of ‘we support collaboration not confrontation’. That kind of stance is Ok when you’re not dealing with a state with a hydrocyanic grudge, rampant nationalism, and a dictatorial government.

    Oh, and before you forget, conventional arms raise the cost threshold for Russian aggression but they cannot remove Russia’s ‘escalation dominance’. Bluntly speaking: Russia can throw a few nukes at their adversaries and demand they surrender if and when it starts to lose a conventional war.

    Now, unless you really really want every little European nation to procure its own nukes plus missiles to deliver them, you’d be best advised to support the US nuclear umbrella over NATO. Fewer playes make for more stable games when it comes to nukes. And stability is what we want to see in this respect, right?

    “ ready to risk a nuclear war risking destruction of the planet,”

    Suggesting that standing up to criminal violence by a country that has nuclear weapons risks ‘nuclear war risking the planet’ is a very dangerous and breathtakingly biased pro-Russian and anti-Western stance.

    Taken to its logical extreme your argument implies that the West should simply accept Russian overlordship because, you know, not doing so might risk provoking Russia and risking nuclear war since the Russians have no compunction against using nukes if they don’t get their way.

    Well, I have news for you. Russia has been kept from using its nukes for the past 70 years not because of any moral or ethical restraint on their part but beacause of fear of their own part in mutually assured destruction should they try.

    Moreover Russia has routinely used the implied threat of its nuclear weapons to blackmail the West into making concessions and letting Russia get way with criminal violence time and time again.

    “[… ] It applies to all war-mongers. You “assume” I have an anti-US bias. Really? Because I believe in COOPERATION and NOT CONFRONTATION?”

    I can see no shred of evidence that you believe in cooperation over confrontation and from the invective you use against the US I can only conclude that you not only have a bias against the US, but a big bias at that.

    I can only see (very clearly) that you propose appeasement in the face of Russian aggression. In the form of surrendering other people’s territory, lives, and freedom that is. Which is really easy for you to do since you live in a country that’s well-protected and has a 3000 mile buffer between itself and Russia. Really, how egoistical can you get?

    If I apply your reasoning to the stance of Nazi Germany before WW-II, you would have been one of those advocating appeasement. And very probably unilateral disarmament so that using the military option would be extremely attractive to Germany.

    It’s a masterpiece of propaganda to try and pass that off as ‘I believe in cooperation instead of confrontation’, I’ll hand you that.

    “Insinuations about war being bad for business?” I beg your pardon, but war IS GOOD for business, as they supply the weapons and supplies -all the logistical support to keep war going. “Grand Theft Pentagon,” by Jeffrey St. Clair is filled with facts, not my “insinuations” if you think war is bad for business.”

    Grow up will you? The arms industry is only a small fraction (in fact around 3.7% for the US (2020 data), as shown here: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS?locations=US which is slightly exceeded by Russia spending about 4.4% of its GDP on arms (2020 data).) of the total economy, which is being battered by inflation, energy shortage and recession.

    It’s more than clear that war is bad for business, even if you let yourself get all excited by books like Grand Theft Pentagon.

    Wastefulness in military procurement and shady dealing in the arms industry is as old as the arms industry itself, and at least as old as federal pork-barrel projects that the US government is forced to dole out to keep its states happy.

    “And “That the US opened its markets to manufacturers in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and China. Yeah, we sure did! We moved much of our manufacturing facilities to Asia and also built new facilities over there for cheap, exploitable labor, little or no environmental regulations, and tax benefits galore, as the capitalist philosophy has no national allegiance but the profit motive is paramount. The golden decade of the 50’s in the US saw the creation of what is called the “middle-class” with roughly one third of American workers employed in American industries were unionized.”

    All true, and you may slag it all you like, but without it SE Asia would still be the miserable swamp it was 60 years ago. So in terms of development aid, fighting poverty, famine, and ecnomic backwardness this action alone made the difference for hundreds of millions of people.

    I’d like to see it as a beneficial side effect of capitalism.

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