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The Freeze Play Is On In Kherson
Another update on some themes
“General Winter” favors the prepared.
When this Friday night turns into Saturday morning, the overnight temperature in Kherson City is forecast to be less than 3 degrees Celsius (37 Fahrenheit), according to Google.
Local conditions will remain rather cold for a week, and some rain is expected. Any improvements in the weather between now and March 2023 will be temporary reprieves.
Russians lacking cold weather survival gear, shelter, heat, and hot food will not withstand night fighting in freezing temperatures indefinitely. Mobilized Russians are being told to procure their own chemical heaters, gloves, thermal underwear, and night vision devices in lieu of government issue.
Vladimir Putin’s Ministry of Defense is unable to supply the Russian Army on a good day, and there are no good days inside the Kherson fire sack. Hampered by long-range artillery fire, already-woeful Russian logistics are unable to meet the needs of a winter army.
The writing has been on the wall for weeks. Gen. Sergey Surovikin, the new theater commander, has assessed that the western bank of the Dnipro cannot be held through the winter.
Looming defeat in Kherson Oblast has been a topic of open discussion on Telegram and is now accepted as a matter of course on Russian television. Defeat is totally normal in Kherson, already, and therefore no threat to the regime, or to Putin’s power.
Ukraine drew a large Russian force concentration to advantageous ground where it could be picked apart. This worked like behavioral software when Putin was calling the shots from the Kremlin.
Everyone in Russia will now ignore his responsibility for this epic disaster — until he dies, and his legacy passes into the hands of his survivors.
Two months ago, I wrote that it would prove to be a strategic blunder. Someone at Reddit linked to that post about a month ago and a steady stream of new subscribers has arrived ever since.
Speaking of subscribers, I am gratified to report that a handful of kind readers have already purchased subscriptions to help support the newsletter even without a paywall.
When I started this publication on Substack, I set a free subscriber number at which I intended to start posting paywalled material. I am surprised to report that the number is getting close.
That’s good, because I am also close to presenting original research here soon, and if it comes out as good as I expect and intend it to be, then it will deserve a paying audience, won’t it?
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The reason I bring this all up right now is because it has happened again. I am noticing thoughts posted here get read by hundreds or thousands of strangers and seem to filter out into a media universe where better-paid people present them as their own.
Which, as I said in June, is fine with me because we are almost all working from the same source material, out here in the world that is not Ukraine. I make no great claims to insight or originality.
On the contrary, I could chase content on Telegram all day, or let the Institute for the Study of War do it for me, when I’d much rather write about why the siege engines of ancient Assyria look like Daleks.
Still, I do enjoy reading Nataliya Bugayova refer to Putin as a gambler “doubling down” after I have said for months that this is a key character trait.
His war aims are further out of reach than ever, yet he cannot seem to give them up, and so he takes another roll of the dice instead of walking away from the table.
“Putin is doubling down on his central goals and narratives, including securing complete control of Ukraine, sustaining a strong centralized Russia, and promising to ‘collapse the Western hegemony,’ as he reiterated in his September 30 speech,” she writes.
Bugayova sees Putin’s usual strengths working against him now because he cannot achieve any of his war aims. Every defeat will further reduce the sense of “greatness” Russians feel under his leadership.
Putin isn’t going anywhere yet, of course, and it is not clear that any faction is ready to replace him. For a long time, Putin restored Russians’ sense of themselves as a world power and an empire. He gave them their greatness back, and now he shrinks in importance to Russians as he loses.
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