Observing some of the panicked reactions to Russia’s decision to redeploy its forces from the west bank of the Dnieper–abandoning Kherson City–to the east bank, I finally realized how many people around the world are judging the war in Ukraine like an episode from the hit show, GOT TALENT. GOT TALENT is a global phenomena and has been produced in more than 100 countries, including Ukraine.
Every year, contestants of any age can audition for the televised contest with whatever talent they wish to demonstrate. During auditions, participants seek to impress a panel of judges in order to secure a place in the live rounds of the contest. Once in the live rounds, participants seek to impress the public and judges to secure votes, in order to reach the final and a chance to win a cash prize.
The key to victory in GOT TALENT is impressing or seducing the viewer at home. Performance on the stage is relevant but often not the determining factor. But that is not the case in war. Looking good or playing to win public approval is not the objective. The goal is simple–destroy the ability of the enemy to fight.
So why is the withdrawal from Kherson being touted as a disaster for Russia and glorious victory for Ukraine? Because it looks bad. Got that? It makes it look like Russia is losing or running away from a fight. People offering this type of criticism are like the cretins you knew in middle school who would gather in a circle and shout at two of their compatriots to “FIGHT.” Yet, not one of the hecklers had the stones to step into the ring and throw some punches.
I am not trying to read some deep, hidden meaning in the Russian action. I take Generals Surovikin and Shoigu at their word. Keeping Russian troops on the west bank with their back to the river created a risk that, in the event of Ukraine launching a major attack accompanied by blowing damns up river, the soldiers would be trapped and forced to fight without a reliable line of communication.
While I have some interest in how Russian public opinion will react, I put more stock in the views of the soldiers for hire fighting alongside the Russians. I am referring to Messrs. Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin. Both men have not been shy in the past about openly criticizing some command decisions of the Russian General Staff. If this movement of troops was unjustified, I am certain at least one or both would speak out. Well, the did. Here is what Kadyrov said:
I fully agree with Mr. Prigozhin’s opinion on Surovikin’s decision. Yevgeny Viktorovich very accurately noted that Surovikin saved a thousand soldiers who were in actual encirclement.
After weighing all the pros and cons, General Surovikin made a difficult but right choice between senseless sacrifices for the sake of loud statements and saving the priceless lives of soldiers.
Kherson is a very difficult area without the possibility of a stable regular supply of ammunition and the formation of a strong, reliable rear. Why was this not done from the first days of the special operation? This is another question. But in this difficult situation, the general acted wisely and far-sightedly – he evacuated the civilian population and ordered a regrouping.
So there is no need to talk about the “surrender” of Kherson. “Surrender” together with the fighters. And Surovikin protects the soldier and takes a more advantageous strategic position – convenient, safe.
Everyone knew from the very first days of the special operation that Kherson was a difficult combat territory. The soldiers of my units also reported that it was very difficult to fight in this area. Yes, it can be kept, it is possible to organize at least some supply of ammunition, but the cost will be numerous human lives. And this forecast does not suit us.
Therefore, I believe that Surovikin acted like a real military general, not afraid of criticism.
He is responsible for the people. He sees better.
Thank you, Sergey Vladimirovich, for taking care of the guys! And we will not stop hitting the enemy and we will not get tired.https://t.me/Slavyangrad/19390
Kadyrov is not a sychophant. He does not carry around a tube of Chapstick in order to be able to butter his lips before kissing the asses of politicians and generals. It appears he genuinely respects Survikin and understands the tactical and strategic thinking behind the move.
I realize this frustrates the dickens out of the global audience who are eager to see a major clash. Some are pulling for Kiev and others are rooting for Moscow. General Surovikin understands that the opinions of the “watchers” is irrelevant. He will fight at a place and time of his choosing, if he can. What is noteworthy about the Russian withdrawal from Kherson is that it was not done under fire or attack. It was calm and orderly an apparently was pre-planned. Perhaps this explains the rumors that circulated a few weeks back that Russia was going to leave Kherson city.
Bloggers, Telegrammers and commenters do not get to vote for who is the winner in Ukraine. That will be decided by who can put the most combat effective troops on the field, who can feed and supply those troops with the weapons and ammunition they need to fight, and who can destroy the opposing army, economy and political system.
Given the fact the Russia barely has committed any of its main army and advanced weaponry to the battle front while Ukraine scrambles like a beggar in the world market pleading for more money and more vehicles and more tanks, I believe that Russia has the edge. I am not privy to the military plans of the Russian military high command, but the Russian generals do not strike me as men driven by fear and reacting emotionally to tactical shifts on the ground. They are planners and they keep those plans to themselves. I do not think Russia’s long history of surprising adversaries on the battlefield has come to an end. Anyone want to bet that Russia turned the lights off in Kherson before leaving?