Ukrainian tactics seem to be rooted in a commitment to keeping details about their offensive quiet.
Little is being said about what is going to happen next. This is reflected in the online discourse as well, which previously proved to be rich sources of information.
It makes sense, obviously. The more the enemy knows, the better they can prepare. The less that the Ukrainians give away, the less likely the operational security of their military action will be compromised. Surprise, in war, is an ally you want by your side.
What is interesting – and it is basically public knowledge at this stage – is that the Ukrainians have formed a bridgehead south of Kherson, on the other side of the Dnipro river. Some people are interpreting this as a sign that Russia’s defensive positions are weakening.
It is a big development, and I suppose there are, more or less, two competing theories that explain it.
The first one is that it is a distraction.
The idea would be that in building the bridgehead they will lure Russian forces to the banks of the Dnipro, thereby diverting them away from other locations, and opening them up for an attack elsewhere.
The second would be that this is no bluff and instead will function as the launch pad for a major attack.
WHAT is interesting and encouraging about all of this is that the Russians have not been able to advance. The Ukrainians, in spite of the best Russian efforts, have been able to hold them back.
This has taken incredible feats of bravery; acts of courage that are becoming the stuff of legend throughout the country.
I have been hearing stories – and seeing horrible images – of what it looks like down in Bakhmut at the minute. The city has been absolutely destroyed beyond recognition and is nothing like what it was when I was there back in August.
When I was taking part in an early evacuation of Bakhmut – during which we rescued over 300 people – at the end of last summer, the place still had some semblance of normality.
Though houses were emptying, they still stood. Though people were fleeing, civilian life still existed. Now, all those features of a normal society have been blown away.
It is a city not affected but defined by war.
Almost everything has been flattened. Houses are hold ups. Shops are bunkers. Schools are forts. Trenches are dug across the city and walls of sandbags are piled on every street. Almost everybody has been driven out of the city or into hiding. Building are now bricks and rubble, while trees have been shot into splinters.
So, while many of us cross our fingers and hope that Putin’s will never finds fruition on the frontline, brave Ukrainian men put their bodies on the line to ensure the same.
TO finish this week, I have to mention what has happened to Finbar Cafferkey, from Achill Island in Co Mayo, who was killed out here recently, and the reaction of the Russian embassy in Dublin.
Finbar, like myself, was a volunteer. He was killed near Bakhmut last week.
After tributes were offered up to Finbar from the Irish government, the Russian embassy in Ireland issued a warning of what they called ‘ensuing consequences’.
Let me just reiterate what happened.
The Irish government offered condolences to a volunteer who was killed in a foreign country, Russia interpreted this as an endorsement and support of Irish people joining the Ukrainian military effort, and, consequently, responded with a menacing threat.
I spent last week’s column reflecting on the increasingly hostile Russian attitude towards Ireland. I did not think that such glaring evidence of this attitude would materialise within the week.
I think that Ireland – like Latvia and other EU countries – should evict the Russian embassy from Dublin.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere
SUBSCRIBE TO CURRENT EDITION TODAYand get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
(CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE)