Once again, there’s a barrage of uninformed bad takes on the Russian war in Ukraine published by the usual suspects, The New York Times, The Telegraph, Foreign Affairs, and the Unherd. They hear something somewhere and are eager to report but are too lazy to find out what’s actually happening.
The main thrust of the reporting is that Russians are preparing a major offensive in the Donbass. 100,000 tanks! 180,000 tanks! 200,000 tanks! It’s like a weird auction where each publication tries to outdo the previous one.
What’s really happening, though?
As usual, Western reporting is several weeks too late to the party. This major Russian offensive that the Western media are anticipating has already been going on for a while. As a result, the Russian losses are back to where they were at the beginning of the war. Between 900 and 1,100 Russian soldiers die daily. This is up from a daily loss of somewhere between 250-300 throughout the Fall. The other day, Russians tried to achieve a breakthrough near Vuhledar and suffered catastrophic losses in lives and equipment, including tanks.
The problem with the vision in which Russians amass hundreds of thousands of tanks and millions of troops and then simultaneously advance them is that there’s no possibility of supplying these tanks or troops. The depots, the bridges and the railroad connections that they used before are 80% destroyed at this point.
As a result, the offensive looks exactly like what we see right now. Heavy fighting over the same tiny village. Russians have advanced by 1-2 kilometres in a couple of areas at the cost of truly enormous losses.
To give an example, Russians have been trying to capture the town of Bakhmut since August. Since the offensive began back in late January, they have stepped up their efforts. Extremely heavy fighting is going on every day around Bakhmut. Ukrainian soldiers built veritable underground apartments, very cute and cozy, to live while they defend Bakhmut. Russians are in a very disadvantaged position because of the geographic specifics of the area. Russians are fighting heroically but they have almost lost more people near Bakhmut than the entire US losses in Vietnam.
But yes, the famous Russian offensive already began. Its declared goals are markedly modest compared with the original declared goals. In the meantime, 78% of the Russian population supports ending the war now and immediately starting an invasion of Kazakhstan. And Prigozhin, the guy who recruits Russian troops out of jails, has announced plans to conquer Italy, France and Bulgaria and make them part of… Ukraine.