A Blog by Jonathan Low


Oct 3, 2022

Ukrainian Breakthroughs Around Kherson Could Trap Thousands of Russian Troops

There may be as many as 25,000 Russian troops in the Kherson area, with perhaps half now trapped on the west bank of the Dnipro River without a means of escape. 

A surprise advance by Ukrainian tank forces has cut them off from the river whose bridges to the eastern, Russian connected side were destroyed over the summer by Ukrainian HIMARS and jets, now making even escape by boat unlikely. JL  

Rhoda Kwan reports in NBC:

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said his military had retaken settlements in the southern Kherson region. That was the first official sign of significant Ukrainian gains in the south, where Russia concentrated the majority of its forces to repel a long-touted counteroffensive opening itself up to the surprise push in the northeast that has turned the tide of the war. (Now) after weeks of slow progress and artillery fire in the south, Ukraine seemed to be surging there as well. Russian sources acknowledged a Ukrainian tank offensive had advanced dozens of kilometres along the river's west bank, recapturing a number of villages.

Ukrainians Collect Russian Soldiers' Corpses As Putin's Army Retreats

Part of the reason the Ukrainians are collecting the corpses is for health reasons, part of it is so they get Ukrainian dead returned - and part of it is to remind the Russian public that this is what happens to Russian soldiers who come to Ukraine. JL 

Isabelle Khurshudyan reports in the Washington Post:

A volunteer search unit named J-9 finds the dead Russians scattered around Ukraine after seven months of war. The remains go into a white bag and are then delivered to a morgue, where DNA samples are collected. The plan is to return the bodies to Russia and retrieve bodies of Ukrainian soldiers killed in action in an exchange. But sending the corpses back to Russia also sends the soldiers’ families, and the Russian public, a clear message about the cost of President Putin’s war against Ukraine. Their loved ones are dead. It is an unmistakable warning to the men now being called up for military duty. 

"Putin's Roulette" Sacrifices Core Supporters In Vain Attempt To Stave Off Defeat

Shades of 1917? JL

Andrei Kolesnikov reports in Foreign Affairs:

Putin appears to have forgotten that the real source of danger to his regime may not be the political opposition, but the ordinary Russians who have long (been) the foundation of his rule. As long as they were provided with economic stability and not too closely involved in the government’s “special operation,” they could be counted on to approve of it, or at least to do nothing to oppose it. But now that has changed, and already there are signs that Putin’s core support is weakening. Having chosen to expand the war, Putin is broadening the arena of defeat: Russia’s mental and moral defeat may now  be complemented by the defeat of the illusions which had until now been sustained at home.

How Ukraine's Ability To Adapt Is Winning the War vs Russia

The Ukrainians are learning as they fight and adapting the lessons learned to how they plan and execute successive operations. 

The Russians, by contrast, remain committed to their historical doctrine, no matter what they are seeing in real time. The results of these divergent approaches is evident in real time. JL 

Mick Ryan reports in Engelsberg Ideas:

The war in Ukraine has shown how a well-led, motivated and well-supplied defending force can defeat an adversary with superior size and military means. A force must adapt while it is in combat. The rapid pace of change results in an interactive approach where belligerents are constantly seeking advantage. The strength of contemporary defense means defenders can inflict significant costs, and prolong the duration, of an opponent’s aggression. Leadership, multidomain integration, closing ‘detection to destruction’ time, massed use of systems, information operations and industrial scale warfare are prevalent.

While All Eyes Were On Lyman, Ukraine Breaks Through Russians At Kherson

The Ukrainian military is conducting a master class in strategic and tactical brilliance, continuing to hit the Russians where they least expect it, using intelligence, armor, infantry and artillery in concert to disrupt, demoralize and destroy their foe. JL 

Daily Kos reports:

Collapsing Russian lines are (causing them to) scramble to establish new defensive lines further to the rear. This may be the beginning of major gains in both axes. At Kherson, Ukraine penetrated 20-kilometers into the Russian backfield in a single day. Encircles Russian positions would either have to withdraw, retreat, or surrender, like in Lyman. The chaotic situation would gift Ukrainians a whole new batch of Russian lend-lease military gear, as well as attrit their combat forces. And it would avoid, for now,Kherson defensive lines. Russian Telegram is in all-out panic mode.

Why Top Leaders Are Increasingly Opposed To "Productivity Paranoia" Spying

Not only do strong leaders like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella believe surveilling employees's keystrokes and other digital indices set a destructive tone, they believe it is measuring the wrong activity in order to optimize performance. JL 

Dina Bass and Emily Chang report in Bloomberg:

Managers’ fears about idle workers are creating what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls “productivity paranoia,” with undesirable results. (And) pandemic work trends, like mass quitting, seem to be petering out. For the first time in 18 months, year-over-year growth in people changing jobs on LinkedIn is now flat. “Leaders think their employees are not productive, whereas employees think they are productive and in many cases feel burnt out. We don’t think employers should be surveilling the activity of keystrokes and mouse clicks and those types of things because, in so many ways, we feel that’s measuring heat rather than outcome.”

Oct 2, 2022

The Great Bluff: How the Ukrainians Outwitted the Russian Army

The Ukrainian military, in cooperation with NATO, secretly planned the Kharkiv offensive for months while publicly proclaiming their intention to attack Kherson. The Russians fell into the trap, moving their best troops south while weakening their forces in the northeast around Kharkiv. 

As a result, Russian resistance has collapsed before the Ukrainian's Kharkiv attack and will eventually cause panic around Kherson as the troops there begin to worry about what will happen to them when the Ukrainians, who are better equipped than them, turn their attention south. This strategy is considered a strategic masterstroke that will be studied for decades. JL  

Christina Hebel and colleagues report in Spiegel:

Ukrainian units have retaken 9,000 square kilometers of land within a few days. Ukraine’s surprise attack has sent Russian soldiers into a hasty and chaotic retreat. The strategy behind the offensive was developed over a period of several months, the result of meticulous planning and culminated in a strategic bluff. Instead of a broad offensive, the Ukrainian military proposed an asymmetric dual strike: The one in Kherson would make slow progress due to the number of Russian troops. Putin's generals sent their best troops to Kherson. But the prong for Kharkiv the Russians didn't see coming. "When its forces made a gap through the Russian line, Ukraine were able to push reinforcements into that gap,"