If anyone has been following the Ukraine war lately, they would have noticed from that Ukrainian army has recently taken back a fairly sizable chunk of territory in the direction of the city of Kharkov. Occuring earlier this month, Ukraine marched into Kharkov rather unexpectatly with a force of maybe 8000 men (some sources are saying it was as high as 30,000, but I was skeptical) and took the Russians completely by surprise, triggering a rapid and successful withdrawal. Ukraine until this point was virtually out of the media; no one gave a shit anymore, and it’s vaunted ‘Kherson counter-offensive’ in the south of the country had turned out to be a total meatgrinder that achieved virtually nothing. Apart from war nerds on the internet ouside of the affected regions, Ukraine was dead as an issue.
Kharkov changed that. It finally looked again like Ukraine could potentially win the war. So it was ripe to report on.
But here’s the thing; I myself was starting to agree.
No matter how you crunched the numbers, they really were starting to favour Ukraine. Ukraine’s army under arms has swollen to massive size. They are not taking this war lightly, practically press ganging random men off the street and sticking them in uniform, giving them some basic training and marching them off to the front to die. Though the casualty ratios were horrendous, Russia was and is massively killing more Ukranikan’s than vice-versa, an army of 175k-200k all up would have a genuine uphill battle prevailing over a massive horde of 600K+, with some recieving elite NATO training and recieving an unlimited trickle of weapons and aid from Western benefactors.
Kharkov was the first big indication that this argument was actually correct. Russia does not have enough men on all fronts to effectively hold gained territory, let alone easily take it. The Russian army clearly understood this when the Ukrainian army rocked up, and got the fuck out of there. Russia’s advance since July (when Lysynchansk — a large city in Eastern Ukraine, part of the Severeodonetsk- Lysychansk conturbation, the Albury Wodonga of Ukraine) has practically all but stalled, only yielding small incremental advances around the city of Bakhmut and the outskirts of Donetsk city in nearly three month.
They don’t have enough manpower needed to easily win. In fact, continuing as they were, there was a reasonable possibility Ukraine could have at great expense, pushed them entirely out of the country.
FINALLY. Putin gets it.
He has indicated he is going to do a very big thing, very concretely. The first is hold immediate referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine, specifically Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and even Zaporozhie. The initial pretext for this war was protecting Donetsk and Lugansk, now recognied formally by Russia (and North Korea !) as breakaway independent states, from Ukraine, but following these referendums, they will be part of Russia proper. Don’t worry; they won’t lose, and even if they did actually lose they will be rigged anyway, ensuring they don’t. I love democracy.
These referendums will be held in a few days, indicating Russia’s desire to expedite this process. Making these occupied regions part of Russia will give Putin a lot of flexibility when it comes to this war; now Russia will be fighting a defensive war against Ukraine on its own soil. This legally allows them to call up reservists, which Russia has a LOT of, to defend these regions, massively bolstering Russian manpower on the ground. Before this, Russia was constrained in only being able to use contracted forces.
The one serious deficency in Russia’s army versus Ukraine’s will be eliminated.
I don’t think Putin’s decision to do this now was entirely based on the warning message of Kharkov. I also think, though it is speculative, that he recieved a green-light in Samarkand, where a large conference between important leaders in Asia was just held. Likely Modi, Xi and probably even Erdogan of Turkey all told him they would not oppose these referendums (even if they did not support them), leaving Putin feeling he could finally get the ball rolling without alienating his friends.
I can’t possibly see a path to victory for Ukraine now. They’re out-gunned, out-equipped, and could potentially be soon outnumbered. Russia is already achieving big kill ratios, probably as high as 1:6-10 on some fronts, but with more men, it is unlikely Ukraine can effectively salvage this war.
Normie fucktard analysts in Western media never talk about the manpower situation because it makes Ukraine look bad, or they don’t understand it to begin with. All the failings of Russia’s operation in Ukraine to date have been predicated on its constrained army size in the country. These constraints are now gone, and gloves are off.