Western narratives of an imminent Russian defeat in Ukraine have had to be grudgingly recast. With the Azov stranglehold on the port city of Mariupol broken by the combined forces of the Russian military and the Donbass militias, the antifascist forces have been able to move on to the second phase of the campaign, the liberation of the Donbass.
Facts on the ground have given the lie to Kiev’s frantic whistling in the dark about the imminent collapse of Russian forces, as the Russian offensive daily advances in the Donbass.
The relief of Mariupol was a crucial turning point in Russia’s offensive. The Azov goons, who had gloried in their reputation as the most vicious and ideologically committed of Ukraine’s armed forces, had sworn never to surrender, barricading themselves inside the Azovstal steelworks and holding the city’s largely Russian population hostage.
However in practice the do or die promises of fighting to the death eventually evaporated in the cold light of day, as one after another the would-be heroes emerged blinking from the tunnels under the factory complex and into the custody of the Russian forces. The job of denazification was made simpler thanks to the passion of the would-be martyrs for getting themselves tattooed with swastikas and SS flashes, conveniently revealed when they were required to lift their shirts.
Media spin falters in the face of reality
Despite the barrage of carefully curated social-media snippets, full of emotional hyperbole and spin, with which the imperialist-run psychological warfare units are saturating workers in the west, facts on the ground can be deciphered by those who are interested in uncovering them.
The initial offensive of Russian troops that surged into Ukraine from all directions, having achieved its apparent aim of misdirecting a section of the Ukrainian forces and allowing that section to be separated and wiped out, then switched focus. The Russian army pulled back to focus on drawing a cauldron around the bulk of the Ukrainian forces’ most experienced soldiers, cut off in the south-east.
This slower, more ponderous stage of combat was at first seized upon by the Kiev junta, not only as proof of the fallibility of their Russian adversaries and the strength of their own military, but in order to claim that Russia – winning by every conceivable measure – was somehow on the brink of defeat.
Mainly supported through a deluge of non-contextualised video content of captured tanks and downed aircraft ‘from the warzone’, the claims made by the Ukrainian state of a hotly contested war had been widely disseminated throughout western media, stoking the imagination of the uncritical to such a degree that many have been led to fall for and regurgitate the assiduously constructed imperialist narrative of a ‘plucky and defiant’ Ukraine facing off against rampaging Russian hordes (the fact that the Russian operation force numbered 190,000 troops against Ukraine’s 250,000 is, of course, never mentioned).
Fondly imagining that the Kiev junta’s cause has the backing of the Ukrainian masses, supposedly ready to launch a veritable people’s resistance war, the pundit chorus still tried to kid themselves that with just one more heave of support from western countries, the Russian menace would be seen off entirely.
In reality, this narrative was never anything other than a desperate propaganda campaign on behalf of a rotten comprador state on the verge of collapse. As Ukrainian state officials beat their chests to proclaim imminent victory, they are at the same time scrabbling to shove hastily conscripted civilians towards the front line with only the barest of equipment and training.
Russian pilots, initially forced to fly low so as to avoid Ukrainian air defences, are now able to strike the Ukrainian rear in Lviv almost with impunity. And despite the deluge of weaponry that has flooded into the country from the west, the regular capture and destruction of these silos has meant that shortages of even the most basic weapons and equipment have become painfully apparent.
Foreign volunteers have routinely been seen on social media complaining about the difficulty of acquiring even rifles and ammunition, while their more cowardly comrades have simply scattered westwards towards European borders, eager to escape with their lives when brought face to face with a disciplined and well-trained force (as opposed to the unarmed civilians that Azov and their ilk prefer to practice their thuggery on).
Ukronazis dig into civilian neighbourhoods
In sharp contrast to the hysteria about atrocities and the barbaric targeting of civilians, all the evidence indicates that the Russian armed forces have been careful and restrained, using their substantial artillery and air strike capabilities selectively in order to take out military targets while minimising casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure.
This contrasts greatly with the criminal destruction of civilian infrastructure that has characterised every US-led war. Civilian casualties during the Mariupol siege were the bitter result of tactics employed by the Azov battalion, whose squads routinely hunkered down in residential buildings, using the residents and their homes as cover.
This pattern – of Ukrainian forces using schools, hospitals and residential blocks as cover, in contravention of all rules of war and humanitarian principles – has been repeated throughout the war and is being thoroughly documented by the Russian ministry of defence.
As the city of Mariupol was freed block by block, evacuated non-combatants repeatedly testified that they had been prevented from fleeing their homes by Azov fighters – that they were, in fact, being used as human shields.
Russia’s consistent practice in such situations has been to open humanitarian corridors to allow residents to get away from the fighting, and to offer an amnesty to any Ukrainian soldier who is prepared to surrender. It is the Kiev regime and its puppetmasters in Washington who have refused to allow residents to leave and soldiers to lay down their arms – apparently intent on fighting to the last Ukrainian to try and rescue their ill-fated cause.
The cruel and inhuman tactics of the west-trained Azov battalion only serve to further highlight the remarkable degree to which Russian armed forces have worked to limit civilian casualties, despite deliberate attempts from their adversaries to engineer confrontations that will maximise civilian loss of life and perhaps justify a further escalation or even direct intervention by the USA and its allies.
Independent military experts have concluded that to all intents and purposes the war was already decided with the encirclement of Mariupol, and the subsequent desperate measures adopted by Ukraine seem to bear this out. With the fall of Mariupol, Russian battlefield dominance seems virtually assured within the current scope of the war.
It is important to acknowledge, however, that the scope of the war could well lurch and extend. News of two battalions of Polish troops being invited on to Ukrainian soil by the Kiev junta raises the possibility of new proxy forces entering the fray or even of direct and open imperialist intervention.
The US Senate vote for $40bn of further assistance to Kiev (ringingly endorsed by the neoliberal Democrats), and the supply now of top-of-the-range weaponry previously held back for fear of prematurely igniting a third world war, including missiles which can strike at targets within Russia itself, are factors which could radically alter the picture.
Another straw in the wind is Washington openly encouraging Finland and Sweden to abandon even their formal ‘neutrality’ and join the warmongering Nato alliance, perhaps in readiness for a remake of the Winter War which ended with the humiliating defeat of the Nazi-backed Helsinki regime? (Only this time the aggressive imperialist sponsor is not Berlin but Washington.)
Meanwhile, however, no sooner had Finland and Sweden received their invitations to the Nato club than fellow Nato member Turkey blackballed the whole idea, revealing the disunity within the institution and the growing challenges to US hegemony.
Whether President Erdogan will stick to this position has yet to be seen, but with Russia continuing to advance there is every chance he may decide Turkey is better off aligning itself economically and militarily with the east. The west, after all, has delivered nothing to Turkey but social strive, impoverishment and broken promises.
And whilst thieves fall out, the Russian army maintains its steady progress towards the liberation of the Donbass.