And it wasn’t the Russians.
In some other posts, I presented a simple reasoning which centered on the need for Russia to score a major victory – military, strategic and symbolic – if they wanted to decisively tip the balance in their favor.
My conclusion was that capturing Kharkov city, the second in size in all Ukraine, makes the best candidate for the said major victory. Odessa looked (now even more so) as a bridge too far, at least for the foreseeable future.
I then assumed the Russians hold all the cards and can choose the place and the time. The only restriction was represented by the limited amount of forces they deployed in the whole Ukrainian theater. Which means they had to clear the Donbass first in order to free enough forces for the Kharkov assault.
The Western/Ukrainian side (in that order) seems to have been more aware than the Russian side about the importance of, in their case, denying Russia this decisive victory.
The West then patched up 2 offensives. A just in case one in the south, in my view a diversionary one, and a real one south of Kharkov. The costs in Ukrainian lives (and not only – ‘foreign militants’ were clearly mentioned by the Russian MoD) don’t matter, as we got accustomed.
The Western propped, directed and led offensive package achieved its military/strategic goal: to buy time. Kharkov falling to the Russians reality shot was postponed. For how long is anyone’s guess, I’d say the delay can be counted in months.
There already are a lot of other consequences happening and more will follow, but, for now, the sophisticated Russian tactics were smacked down by a brutal, uncouth, inconsiderate of human lives Western Soviet-style answer.
Told you, keep an eye, or better both, on Kharkov, it is where the game will be won or lost.
Pssst, Mr. Putin, you don’t have all the time in the world to figure what you want. I’m still assuming that Russia has the military ability and capability, but, with blunders like these, your own people will begin to doubt you really can deliver. Not to mention how many locals’ lives you fucked up now. Seems you fell into one western trap after all.