More to ignore, Book 93.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Joe Biden’s address to the American people last week was, as I wrote at the time, necessary and right. The staging was bizarre, and the speech had some of the hallmarks of a group product that hadn’t been subjected to a final spackle-and-smooth by a chief writer. But Biden got one big thing right, and
that one thing explains why Donald Trump and the MAGA World apologists are reacting with such fury. The president outed them as anti-American nihilists:

They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country … MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.

This, as Biden pointed out, is what makes the MAGA movement so dangerous. It has no functional compass and no set of actual preferences beyond a generalized resentment, a basket of gripes and grudges against others who the Trumpists think are looking down upon them or living better lives than they are. It is a movement composed of people who are economically comfortable and middle-class, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living, and yet who seethe with a sense that they have been done dirt, screwed over, betrayed—and they are determined to get revenge.

Biden broke with tradition by saying what presidents are never supposed to say: He admitted that he was finally giving up on trying to accommodate a group of Americans, because he understands that they do not want to be accommodated. I know that some of my friends and colleagues believe that Biden, as president, must continue to reach out to MAGA voters because they are our neighbors and our fellow citizens. (The former GOP operative and my fellow Never Trumper Tim Miller made this point just this morning.) My instinct is to agree with them. But how do we reach those voters? These citizens do not want a discussion or a compromise. They don’t even want to “win,” in any traditional political sense of that word. They want to vent anger over their lives—their personal problems, their haunted sense of inferiority, and their fears about social status—on other Americans, as vehemently as possible, even to the point of violence.....
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: The battle for Kupyansk has begun

Mark Sumner

Three days ago, Shevchenkove was 30km from the front line. Yesterday, locals repainted the towns sign in the colors of the Ukrainian flag as members of the Ukrainian armed forces posed for a picture at the entrance to the town … which is now 30km behind the front in the other direction. The movement of Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv counteroffensive has been incredible, with the number of villages being reported as under Ukrainian control seeming to almost double by the hour.



As of this Friday afternoon (5AM ET, 1PM Kyiv) Ukrainian soldiers have passed the entrance to Kupyansk, and fighting is going on in the city. It’s such an incredible advance that even Ukraine’s staunchest supporters seemed gobsmacked. Meanwhile, Russian claims that all is well are drawing a heated reply from the Russians on the firing line.



The supply line to Izyum from Kupyansk has already been cut off, and if Russian sources are to be believed, Ukrainian troops have also moved down the highway that fronts the Siverskyi Donets River to attack the location of the bridge at Senkove. All of this has the Russian administrator in Izyum begging for assistance. In that begging, he says, “Reserves are urgently needed in Izyum. Reserves are going to Kupyansk, no reserves are seen in Izyum yet.” Despite this, as kos noted yesterday, Russia has continued to launch absolutely fruitless attacks out of Izyum on locations such as Dovhen'ke and Brazhkivka. Rather than pulling in their troops and planning for a defense of the city, they’re continuing to lose men in multiple failed attempts to capture tiny villages to the south—villages that, even if successfully captured, would not mean a thing to Russia’s strategic goals. It’s madness.

As of Thursday evening, Russian Telegram accounts are almost useless for tracking the activities of the fight in Kharkiv Oblast. Where are Ukrainian forces? Everywhere! After all, it’s much easier to explain why you are running away if you can claim there are 9,000 troops and a dozen tanks at your back.


Is Ukraine actually attacking Senkove at the same time it’s hitting Kupyansk? Has it already taken places as far to the south of the main advance as Senok and Chornobaivka? Honestly, there’s no way to tell. Russian accounts say they are gone. Russian milbloggers are putting these locations on maps. But then, Russian sources may be engaged in labeling locations as liberated by Ukraine so that they can come back tomorrow and label them as “recaptured” by Russia.

For this morning’s map, I’ve only stamped Ukraine blue on those villages and towns where there’s at least some level of confirmation from Ukrainian sources. Even so, the change from Thursday is incredible. What seemed like a slender, easily broken salient 24 hours ago, now seems to have expanded to cover a broad swath of Kharkiv Oblast, spreading out almost as high as it is deep.

screencap.jpg

The situation has changed beyond recognition in 24 hours.

What may be most amazing is that all those white “in dispute” towns in the east are actually reported by Russian sources to be under Ukrainian control. The area of the blue above, the Ukrainian-held territory in this advance alone, is right at 1,000 square kilometers. The area of the yellow is another 700 square kilometers.


If it seems like there are a lot more markers on this map than yesterday, that’s because there are. Balakliya, now well over on the left of this map, was occupied by Russia on March 2. The rest of this area was swept up within the first week of the invasion. I’ve never had these locations on the map before because they were never involved in the conflict before.

There are also reports that the yellow band above the Russian-occupied area in the south is more than just a color on the map. Ukrainian forces are reportedly continuing to move down the P78 highway from Balakliya. Down the M03 past Volokhiv Yar. Down highways south from Shevchenkove.

As of early this morning (4AM ET, Noon Kyiv), there were reports that Hrushivka was fully under Ukrainian control, so theoretically, that area of blue could be further extended. If Russian sources are to be believed, it could expand all the way to the Siverskyi Donets.

However, it’s unclear at this point just what’s really going on with many of these towns. Clearly, Russia had gutted its forces in the area and had little more than a token force at many locations. Many of those “Ukraine has taken” reports on Russian Telegram surely translate to “we have run away from” with or without any sign of Ukrainian forces. Likewise, many of the towns already marked as under Ukrainian control are actually more in the “Ukraine was here” category. How much force has been left to hold places like Shevchenkove or Hrushivka is unclear. Just as when Russia was building out its Izyum salient along these same roads six months ago, there are now Russian voices shouting for reserves to rush up and strike the Ukrainian advance before it can solidify this position.

On the other hand, there are rumors that Ukrainian troops are in Oskil, east of Izyum and 15km north of where they were thought to be. That would cut off the other route of supply into the city. Russia just finished repairing the bridge at Oskil. Maybe that will turn out to be … handy.

An estimated 10,000 Russian troops are in or around Izyum, and the administrator is crying out for more. Every Russian Telegram account appears to contain a growing list of abandoned villages. Reports of UKrainian troops are suddenly everywhere. The lines from Kupyansk are already cut. Russia forces are simply being routed at every point in this counteroffensive. But … there is no panic. None at all.

This level of progress is almost certainly not sustainable. Ukraine is going to have to call a halt soon and consolidate its gains or risk overplaying its hand. But ... damn. It’s certainly going well so far.

KHARKIV IS A RESUPPLY POST … FOR UKRAINE​







WELCOME BACK, BOYS!​



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Sep 9, 2022 · 12:31:57 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
The extent to which the area of Ukrainian control is expanding is hard to grasp. Check the morning map. See that road running to the east out of Savyntsi? That’s the P78 highway.

That may be the line of combat now. There are reports of Ukrainian forces engaged all the way down at Vesele (that major crossroads to the east of Savyntsi), and more Ukrainian forces just a kilometer north of Pidvysoke, which is the point where the P78 jogs to the south.

We’re in “two maps a day doesn’t cut it” territory.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Izyum, Kupyansk, Lyman all under attack as Ukraine doubles size of liberated area

Mark Sumner

GettyImages-1243050215.jpg

Another fearsome Ukrainian outpost. Cute as they are, these kids in the Donetsk region are living with the consequences and threat of real war every single day. Sept. 8, 2022.

Events are happening so quickly in the Ukrainian counteroffensive that it’s genuinely impossible to cover them all. This morning, the version of the map posted showed just under 1,000 square kilometers of territory liberated by Ukrainian forces in this single drive across Kharkiv Oblast. Eight hours later, that number is over 1,600 square kilometers. Ukrainian forces have reportedly taken out the bridge at Kupyansk, captured the town of Senkove, and possibly even moved 10 km down the eastern bank of the Oskil River. There are reports that Ukraine has liberated Buhaivka, which was known to be the site of a major Russian vehicle storage and repair depot, and of units engaged as far south as Vesele and Kunje, less than 20 km north of Izyum

And that’s far from all. Just three days ago, this was part of the morning Ukraine update:

Lyman. Remember Lyman? It was one of the largest town Russia had captured when it fell in mid-May, and that’s about the last time we’ve had a reason to mention it. Only I’m mentioning it now, because Ukrainian forces have reportedly taken Staryi Karavan, only 3km from Lyman.

There are reports on Friday that there is active fighting in both the suburbs and in Lyman itself, as what was thought to be a token force of Ukrainian troops in Staryi Karavan and Ozerne surges to the north. It’s getting to where there is no place in Ukraine safe for a Russian military crew. Just as it should be.



With repeated cautions that 1) when things are moving this quickly, accuracy suffers, 2) many of these reported gains are not confirmed by either the Ukrainian military or geolocated images, and 3) it’s impossible to know how much of this has been secured for Ukraine, rather than just freed of Russian forces, here’s how the map looks now.

screencap.jpg

Ukraine expands area captured by 60% in a day.

What began as a slender salient shooting rapidly along a single highway has turned into a broad counteroffensive that has taken a solid chunk out of Russia’s occupied territory. It’s also either completely cut, or very nearly so, all supply lines to what is reportedly a force of around 10,000 stationed in and around Izyum.

There appears to be active fighting all around Kupyansk, as well as at multiple points along the southern edge of this widening advance. It’s unclear so far if there is any place that Russia has really dug in their heels and put up a solid resistance.

In response to this action Russia has sent forward an entire fleet of … videos, which supposedly show reinforcements rolling in from Belgorod to the north. However, there have so far been few reports of these reinforcements on the ground and several of those videos have proven to be fakes.

What’s obvious is that in this location at least, Russia’s line was exactly one village deep. Once Ukrainian forces were able to either capture or bypass locations like Balakliya and Verbivka they were running loose in Russia’s backfield. With a few exceptions, the small Russian forces they’ve encountered have seemed to have one thought on their mind: which way to run. And even when Ukrainian troops did meet some resistance, as at Shevchenkove and Hrushivka, they seem to have cleared away those obstacles in a matter of hours, not days.


Meanwhile, in the puppet theater that is the official Russia media, Russia has relieved the forces still valiantly fighting at Balakliya and crackerjack VDV units are holding a weak force of Ukrainian assailants at bay. All is well. Situation normal. There is no panic. They need to let Russian Telegram know this, because that place is all panic.

But there’s no doubt that Russia is desperately trying to move the pieces around the board in hopes of stopping Ukraine at Kupyansk and throwing some kind of firewall in front of Izyum. Which, on Friday morning in Ukraine, came in the form of reports of troops being repositioned from locations in Luhansk and Donetsk. Locations such as … Lyman.

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Fighting reported on south side of Izyum, as well as on the line of towns north of Izyum.

This map should give a sense of how the widening Kharkiv counteroffensive relates to Izyum. On Thursday, Russia was still pushing out pointless attacks from Izyum toward Dovhen'ke, but now there is a whole line of reported fighting less than 20 km north of the city.

At the same time, Ukraine is pushing north into Lyman. That city happens to be on the southern end of rail lines that also run straight through Kupyansk, so Ukrainian forces in that location means that Lyman’s primary means of supply is shut down. Plus, it’s not clear how many Russian forces were left to hold this city, particularly with the need for those troops in Russia’s long slog toward Bakhmut and the urgent calls from Kupyansk.

Russia may well have expected the Siverskyi Donets River to do their defense for them. After all, this location is near that of Bilohorivka, where Russian forces suffered three consecutive disasters in an attempt to bridge the river. It was already clear from Ozerne and Staryi Karavan that Russia wasn’t keeping a large defensive force in place. Videos that showed just a few Ukrainian special forces scouting locations across the river may well have been a ruse to distract from construction of a pontoon bridge and establishment of a more substantial bridgehead.


In any case … look at Izyum. There are 10,000 Russian troops there. Their primary supply line from the rail hub at Kupyansk is cut off. Nothing is coming across the river at Senkove. Whatever they are going to get is going to have to come across the bridge at Oskil, and how were most supplies reaching that location? Down the rail line from Kupyansk.

A reasonable tactician might be moving those forces out of Izyum as quickly as possible, or arranging them in tight defensive lines behind fortifications. But just how fortified Izyum might be against an approach from the north isn’t clear. After all, that Izyum salient dates back to the second week of the invasion. Like all the rest of the territory behind Balakliya, they may have done nothing at all to prepare for a massed assault coming in from “their” territory.

In fact, there are now reports that the fighting isn’t near Izyum. It’s in Izyum.




If this is true, then it’s hard to even estimate the impact of this single day. A day in which Ukraine may has taken more territory, more villages, more towns, and more materiel than any other.

And a day in which it may be about to successfully liberate its first major city.




 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Sep 9, 2022 · 4:54:04 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
You may be familiar with the “work” of Russian propagandist Semyon Pegov, also known as “WarGonzo.” He’s the guy who brought you such treats as that video of people hugging and kissing Russian soldiers as they entered Severodonetsk … which wasn’t filmed within a thousand miles of Severodonetsk. Mr. Gonzo has been all over Ukraine, always ready to show that Russian forces are there to just stop the Nazis and hand out candy to children.

And as it happens, today he is in Izyum. Which is kind of perfect.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Friday, Sep 9, 2022 · 4:56:45 PM EDT · kos
Weird. Russia didn’t launch any attacks against Dovhen’ke today. I guess someone got new orders. Or is dead.

Meanwhile, Russian state media is finally paying attention.



My favorite is the Kadyrovite who is like “Is Izyum the capital of Russia? Is Kupiansk? If not, who cares!”

Apparently, Dovhen’ke was the capital of Russia, because they really cared about that one.
 

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