The Invasion of Kharkiv

A few years ago, Russia held one of its military parades in the Red Square. You know the kind I’m talking about. The Russian leadership watching from the top of the Mausoleum. Military technology rolling by, soldiers marching, people clapping.

This parade was particularly important because the Russian Army was going to present its extra-fancy brand-new rocket launcher. The rocket launcher was highly publicized as a hugely important breakthrough in Russian military technology. It was endlessly discussed on TV in the usual terms of “everybody should tremble in fear” and “once again we prove we are the best.”

Finally, the parade begins. The troops march across the Red Square. Putin observes benevolently from above.

Finally, the fabled rocket launcher enters the Red Square and begins to cross it. It’s a huge, scary-looking thing. And then, right in the middle of the Red Square . . . the fancy new rocket launcher starts falling into pieces. Literally, pieces fall off it. The launcher looks like it’s made of painted cardboard. Soldiers drag it out of the Red Square and everybody pretends this never happened.

I remembered this yesterday when at midnight my time I saw an alert that Russian troops were entering Kharkiv, the city I’m from. I almost had a heart attack right there and immediately went to look at the footage of what was going on.

And. . . it was weird. Really weird.

I don’t understand war. Its strategy and tactics are unclear to me. But what I saw in yesterday’s invasion of Kharkiv by the Russian troops was of such nature that I went to sleep without waiting to see how it would turn out. Because it was obvious how it would end. Here’s why.

The invasion looked as follows. A Russian military vehicle (I don’t know what they are called. Not a tank but a big scary dude on wheels) enters the city. It starts roaming around aimlessly and not very fast, like it’s lost. Somebody throws a grenade and sets it on fire.

Two minutes later, a Russian tank shows up. There’s more aimless, plodding wandering around. Somebody on the Ukrainian side picks it off.

Eight minutes later, a small colonnade of Russian vehicles enters. They all go at a different distance from each other. One of them slows down to almost a hault for no particular reason. Somebody on the Ukrainian side throws something at it and it explodes.

I only see the view from one stationary camera and can’t see what happens to the rest of the Russian colonnade. In the morning, I find out that the colonnade was destroyed in its entirety. I’m not surprised because they way it was coming in, they were total sitting ducks. Any citizen with a homemade Molotov cocktail could have picked them off one by one. (And probably did).

I’m hearing talk from Ukrainians on the ground that the Russian colonnade didn’t come as part of a planned military operation. People are saying these particular Russians came because they had run out of food and were almost out of fuel (which would explain the bizarre behavior of the vehicles). Kharkiv is minutes from the Russian border, so these people left their country to come get food in the country they have invaded.

We all knew that the Russian army is a mess (see the story I started with) but this was on a whole different level. Again, I know dick about urban warfare and if anybody has any knowledge that explains this, I welcome it. But sending isolated tiny groups of vehicles into a 1,500,000 city does not look like a way to conquer it. It looks like a way to lose vehicles and men. Which is exactly what happened. Kharkiv is completely under Ukrainian control.

Glory to Ukraine.

22 thoughts on “The Invasion of Kharkiv

  1. I’m so sorry they’re laying siege to your hometown. I’m glad we are holding on to it.

    My main fear at this point is of Putin trying to take any of the big cities by any cost. I’d wish for the oligarchs to decide he was too dangerous and take care of the matter, but I remember you saying that whoever comes next will be worse. Would you be into explaining your thoughts on this, or is it just as depressing a topic as everything else?

    Слава Україні!

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  2. When it comes to urban warfare, armor and infantry are like a right and a left leg, i.e. both need each other to advance properly. The infantry protects the armor and the armor protects the infantry, and they work as a combined arms operation. Sending a lone column of armored vehicles into a city is asking for disaster for the reasons demonstrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly the whole endeavour, from Russia’s side, was as if limbs weren’t talking to one another. Armor gets sent in without infantry and infantry (and highly-expensive special forces at that) get sent in without armor, paratroopers (again, expensive, expensive troops) get parachuted in without any support, vehicle columns get way overextended without any secure fuel supply (and then the Ukrainean government teaches all citizens that when an armor column rolls in they should leave it alone, and instead gank the barely-able-to-defend-themselves fuel tanks rolling in half an hour later, and then the Ukrainean army gets free tanks/UAVs when the bitches inevitably run out of gas). It’s as if the Russians simply didn’t have it in their playbook that anybody can fight back. These are tactics I’d have used in a Heroes 3 computer game when playing with cheats on.

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      1. ” Russians simply didn’t have it in their playbook that anybody can fight back”

        I heard a guy on Polish tv the other claim that Russian training doesn’t include the skills need to take and hold urban areas, it’s almost all forests and roads and fields in the middle of nowhere (of which Russia has plenty).

        And it does seem that Putin thought Russian troops would be welcomed as heroes…. which is kind of insane but he’s so insulated from disagreement that it sort of makes sense he’d think that….

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          1. Ukrainian civilians? Can they build on that simple human communication and convince the soldiers to turn themselves in rather than dying there for Putin? Many of them are young kids. They are dumb bastards, but the behavior you’re describing is not aggressive and could perhaps be harnessed for good.

            Here’s a video of an armored vehicle passing another by and shooting into the air in front of itself a few times in a half-hearted effort and driving on. It would be nice to fantasize these 2 vehicles are indeed on opposite sides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbI94uCCD98&ab_channel=AHOBITE-Updates

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      2. That’s exactly how it is. We are witnessing the perfect example of people buying into their own bullshit and believing it. They always said they are the greatest army on earth, so why train and plan, right? Hubris leads people to bad places.

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    1. What’s really funny is Russia, a nation with huge amounts of oil and gas, invading a smaller country right next to it, has vehicles running out of fuel.

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    1. I don’t read or watch the Western media on the subject of Ukraine. Have absolutely no idea what they do or don’t say. My sources are 100% in Ukrainian and Russian and are all directly on the ground right now.

      If Western media lie (which is possible but I can’t be bothered to care right now), I invite everybody to read my blog with real information.

      On the subject of “media lies,” I did see a few Americans on Twitter freaking out over “a fake photo of Zelensky in military uniform from back in April.” They must have been banned in Google and missed the news that Ukraine has been at war since 2014. It’s not strange that the president has been in uniform for a while. Currently, he has no time to pose for fresh photo ops. So a previous photo is shared. It’s all pretty obvious. But the inflamed brains of some people are seeing conspiracies where there aren’t any.

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      1. I haven’t been watching the news either. I trust your sources much more than anything I could see on the news. This guy – Mark Crispin Miller – has interesting and smart things to say fairly often, so its a source others may be interested in. He linked to Glen Greenwald’s substack on how propaganda has been used to justify war over and over and is happening now. I recommend the article by Glenn. It may help younger folks we know to see better what has been happening, including COVID propaganda.

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        1. More delusion about Ukraine being manipulated into this war by the West and all of us being unreasonable about Russia.

          It is frustrating how you explain things over and over and people just don’t get it. And also have trouble believing that plenty of Ukrainians love their country enough to give up their lives for its defense.

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          1. I’m not sure if you read Glenn Greenwald’s piece – it wasn’t about the current war as much as it was about how we (Americans, Europeans) are being and have been manipulated to see things in very black and white terms and become so emotional We can’t even attempt to think critically about what is going on and get led into big wars. It emerges late how much was lies. He talks about 9/11, Iraq, Syria.

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            1. What is the connection of that to the current events in Ukraine? The usual line is Americans are being manipulated to see things in very black and white terms – for example, like thinking that Russia invading Ukraine is quite clearly bad.

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              1. Clearly Russia invading Ukraine is quite bad. I am praying for a quick resolution and few casualties.

                Does that mean we must allow ourselves to be stirred up into a frenzy by the corrupt and lying media, to the point where we are so worked up we are ok with anything proposed by the Biden admin regardless of the likely consequences? For example what is being proposed re the SWIFT system freeze on Russia means that our govt will again print Trillions of dollars, increasing our inflation and harming Americans by further devaluing their money. Perhaps other choices would have fewer unwanted side effects. But if we are in a blind rage at Russia and accept any BS offered as a “solution” we continue to sow the seeds of our breakdown. Think about the Patriot Act loss of privacy via 9/11.

                I think this matters. You don’t have to agree but there may be others who can benefit from reading that article and thinking about it.

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              2. At this moment, we are at the highest probability of nuclear war than at any time since 1953. Today it’s much lower than in 1953 but higher than at any time since then, including during the Cuban Missile crisis.

                Yes, Biden is a jerk. He’s not done anything for Ukraine and especially in comparison with Trump who was a blessing to Ukraine. The real propaganda is making us believe that Biden is being aggressive towards Russia when he’s been a passive, absent, disinterested wallflower. On Ukraine, he’s almost as bad as Obama. Of course, Obama wins the competition in utter foreign policy ineptness by far. None of this would be happening if we had McCain instead of Obama in 2008-2012. And I’m saying this as an idiot who supported Obama back then.

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  3. I have heard elsewhere that the invasion routes are littered with broken-down tanks. I wonder if that’s serious hardware problems (if your military’s corrupt enough, this is a distinct possibility– the maintenance funds got diverted), or self-sabotage (soldiers who don’t want to be invading Ukraine) or some of both.

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