20 Constructive Critiques Of Russia’s Special Operation

Calmly acknowledging setbacks and sharing constructive critiques afterwards aligns with the spirit of what President Putin suggested earlier in the summer when he advised against indulging in wishful thinking. Nobody who sincerely supports this newly restored world power and its de facto leadership of the Global Revolutionary Movement in the New Cold War could in good conscience eschew their moral responsibility to encourage Russia’s self-improvement through these well-intended means.

Russia’s special operation in Ukraine is approaching its ninth month, during which time it’s experienced its share of successes and setbacks. The first-mentioned have been widely amplified by the Alt-Media Community (AMC), but many among them have also covered up many of the latter through a combination of “5D chess” conspiracy theories and wishful thinking (which can together be referred to as “copium”). The purpose of the present piece is to shed light on these “hard truths”.

Calmly acknowledging setbacks and sharing constructive critiques afterwards aligns with the spirit of what President Putin suggested earlier in the summer when he advised against indulging in wishful thinking. Nobody who sincerely supports this newly restored world power and its de facto leadership of the Global Revolutionary Movement in the New Cold War could in good conscience eschew their moral responsibility to encourage Russia’s self-improvement through these well-intended means.

To be absolutely clear, “Russia Is Waging an Existential Struggle in Defense of Its Independence & Sovereignty” after NATO crossed its national security red lines in Ukraine, thus explaining why it’s sought to denazify and demilitarize this “anti-Russian” geostrategic project. The US refused to respect Russia’s security guarantee requests and thus prioritized containing it over China because it regarded this Eurasian Great Power as the so-called “weak link” in the global systemic transition to multipolarity.

As it turned out, “All Sides In The Ukrainian Conflict Underestimated Each Other”, but “Russia Will Still Strategically Win Even In The Scenario Of A Military Stalemate In Ukraine” since its special operation set into motion globally game-changing processes that simply require it to survive in order for them to succeed. This assessment remains in place despite the recent setback in Kherson Region. Having placed everything in its proper context, a quick disclaimer will now be shared before proceeding any further.

Nobody should misinterpret the forthcoming collection of constructive critiques of Russia’s special operation as implying a so-called “know-it-all approach” suggesting that each shortcoming was obvious well ahead of time and could thus have easily been avoided. Everything is always a lot clearer in hindsight, and these critiques don’t hint that events could have unfolded differently. They’re being shared solely for the historical record and to assist Russia’s self-improvement going forward:

  1. 2022 Might Have Been A Bit Late To Launch The Special Operation

Among the most popular patriotic critiques is that the special operation was launched a bit too late, which thus hamstrung its effectiveness since Kiev had eight years to prepare. Those who subscribe to this view believe that it should have started in summer 2014 or by summer 2020/2021 at the latest. That said, Russia hadn’t yet sanction-proofed its economy or modernized its military by summer 2014, while it still had high hopes for a diplomatic solution to this security dilemma in summer 2020/2021.

  1. Russia Learned Too Late That The West Doesn’t Negotiate In Good Faith

Building upon the last-mentioned point, the primary reason why Russia waited until February 2022 to commence its special operation is because of its leadership’s misplaced belief that the West negotiates in good faith. President Putin – who’s far from the monster, madman, or mastermind that his foes and friends caricaturize him as being for their own self-serving reasons – learned this lesson too late, but he can’t be faulted for his principled and rational belief in diplomacy since it made sense to try at the time.

  1. Diplomatic Discretion Left The Armed Forces & Citizenry Psychologically Unprepared For Conflict

Russia didn’t publicly reveal details about the national security threat posed by NATO’s clandestine expansion into Ukraine in order to retain diplomatic discretion and thus help related talks succeed by providing a cover for the US to “save face” in the event that it agreed to the security guarantee requests. The trade-off, however, is that this left the armed forces and citizenry psychologically unprepared for conflict. Had they been informed of this threat, they could have braced themselves for that scenario.

  1. The Timing Of The Special Operation Was Practically Decided By The US & Kiev

President Putin ultimately revealed the details of the national security threat posed by NATO’s clandestine expansion into Ukraine, which included his claim that the special operation was launched to preempt the third offensive against Donbass that Kiev was about to commence with US support. It was that credible second-mentioned development more so than anything else that pushed Russia to act when it did, thus meaning that its two opponents practically decided the timing of this campaign.

  1. Russia Never Had The Strategic Initiative In The Ukrainian Conflict

Seeing as how the US, NATO, and Kiev were never negotiating in good faith over Donbass and Russia’s security guarantee requests but exploiting such talks as a cover for preparing for a third offensive in the then-Ukrainian Civil War, it was always they and not Moscow who held the strategic initiative. As such, while they mistakenly believed that the risk of a large-scale Russian conventional intervention remained low, they nevertheless didn’t discount it either and thus prepared accordingly for that scenario.

  1. Diplomatic Discretion Counterproductively Discredited Russian Diplomacy

The US-led West’s Mainstream Media (MSM) manipulated global perceptions ahead of Russia’s special operation by fearmongering about Moscow’s military buildup, which the Kremlin continued to deny out of diplomatic discretion. By declining to disclose details about how NATO’s clandestine expansion in Ukraine threatened their national security interests until after the special operation began, many fell under the false impression that it was Russia and not the West that was exploiting diplomacy as a cover.

  1. Operational Security Occurred At The Expense Of Russia Losing ~$300 Billion In Foreign Reserves

Likewise, for as understandable as the aforementioned diplomatic discretion was at the time, it and the need to preserve operational security upon the decision being made to commence the campaign ultimately occurred at the expense of ~$300 billion in foreign reserves being frozen. Russia was indisputably in a dilemma though since bringing those funds home ahead of time would have tipped the West off about Moscow’s military intentions and thus sped up their plans for a third Donbass offensive.

  1. Russia Didn’t Expect The West To Censor Its Media Or Make It Impossible For Them To Operate

There’s no doubt that Russia was caught completely off guard when the West censored its media and created other conditions that made it impossible for them to operate. It apparently thought that its opponents wouldn’t discredit their self-proclaimed “democratic” soft power, yet that’s precisely what happened. Moscow should have forecast this, preemptively diversified its disproportionate dependence on flagships like RT and Sputnik through creative means, and thus preserved its soft power in the West.

  1. Uncoordinated Military Objectives Among Commanders Complicated The Operation

The start of the special operation saw the Russian Armed Forces enter Ukraine from multiple directions, though it appears in hindsight that this was much less coordinated than many initially thought. Far from being part of a master plan aimed at encircling the enemy, it now seems to have been the result of uncoordinated military objectives advanced by more or less largely autonomous commanders, each of which sought to pursue their own on-the-ground goals without working closely with their peers.

  1. The Politically Driven Rules Of Engagement Hamstrung The Campaign’s Military Effectiveness

Russia limited the rules of engagement for months in order to advance its envisaged political objectives. This resulted in its armed forces proverbially fighting with one hand behind their back so as to reduce civilian casualties while also leaving open the possibility for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, the latter of which was sabotaged by the UK in spring at the US’ behest. Looking back on it, these well-intended efforts failed to achieve strategic dividends and thus inadvertently prolonged the conflict.

  1. Russian Intelligence Seems To Have Misjudged Ukraine’s Soft Security Resilience

In view of the abovementioned insight, the only logical explanation for the lack of coordination among commanders is that Russian intelligence misjudged the US-backed Neo-Nazi regime’s socio-political (soft security) resilience. Had they expected anything other than a quick collapse at the start of the special operation, especially behind the front lines, then there’s little doubt that the entire campaign would have been much more closely coordinated in the conventional military sense.

  1. Russian Intelligence Also Seems To Have Inaccurately Assessed America’s Commitment To Kiev

Similarly, it looks like Russian intelligence also inaccurately assessed just how committed America was to its proxies in Kiev. Moscow didn’t expect such massive Western military aid to flood into Ukraine at the scale, scope, and pace that it thus far has, let alone for how long the aforesaid has been sustained. This development neutralized the strategic impact of Russia completely destroying its opponent’s military-industrial complex by late March and thus resulted in the conflict continuing into the present day.

  1. Another Intelligence Shortcoming Concerned The EU’s True Strategic Autonomy

Russian intelligence seems to have been convinced that the German-led EU was much more strategically autonomous of America than it actually was and thus held high hopes that it would impede Washington’s military aid to Kiev while simultaneously mediating a quick solution to the conflict. The energy-centric relationship of complex interdependence between Brussels/Berlin and Moscow was unexpectedly ruined by the first at the expense of their objective interests due to heavy US pressure.

  1. Faulty Intelligence And Wishful Thinking Catalyzed A Chain Reaction Of Complications For Russia

Had Russia accurately assessed the strategic situation in Ukraine and among the West more broadly ahead of commencing its special operation, then it might have avoided the chain reaction of complications that followed. Everything could potentially have been much more coordinated in the diplomatic and military sense, the first with respect to informing the world in advance why military means might ultimately be resorted to while the latter could have taken the form of “shock and awe”.

  1. Goodwill Gestures Failed To Convince Kiev To Make Tangible Progress On The Peace Process

Russia’s pullback from Kiev, its corresponding one from Snake Island, and the grain deal were all goodwill gestures undertaken with the well-intended expectation that they’d convince Kiev to make tangible progress on the peace process, yet that outcome never materialized. There’s no doubt that each of them counteracted the MSM’s false claims about Moscow supposedly being obsessed with “war, conquest, and famine”, but that’s inadequate compensation for failing to achieve its primary goal.

  1. Hard-Fought On-The-Ground Gains Were Taken For Granted & Thus Improperly Defended

The setbacks in Kharkov and Kherson Regions might have been avoided had those fronts been properly defended, yet this didn’t happen because these hard-fought on-the-ground gains were arguably taken for granted for reasons beyond the scope of the present piece. It currently remains unclear what other gains might also have been taken for granted and thus remain difficult to defend without unacceptable losses, yet at least now the pertinent authorities seem to have finally acknowledged these challenges.

  1. Partial Mobilization & Martial Law Could Have Been Ordered A Bit Earlier

In response to the above, the decision was belatedly made to order the partial mobilization of experienced reservists together with promulgating martial law in the now-reunified region of Novorossiya, yet both of these could have been ordered a bit earlier in order to be more effective. These steps were probably delayed in order to avoid the perception that the special operation was struggling to achieve its objectives, which thus suggests that disproportionate attention was paid to that concern.

  1. The Public Wasn’t Preconditioned To Expect The Conflict’s Evolution Into A Defensive One

Kiev’s continued shelling of settlements within Russia’s pre-2014 borders together with its suicide bombing attack against the Crimean Bridge and reconquest of the newly reunified Kherson Region’s right bank confirm that the conflict has shifted from an offensive to a defensive one for Moscow. Neither the domestic nor international public were preconditioned by that country’s influencers to expect this, however, which contributed to confusion, disappointment, and even indignation.

  1. Vague Perception Management Concerns Took Precedence Over Concrete Military Goals

The overarching trend up until recently is that vague concerns about the portrayal of the special operation to the domestic and international public took precedence over achieving concrete military goals. This explains the self-imposed limitations on the rules of engagement, the spree of goodwill gestures, consistently prioritizing a diplomatic solution, the Kharkov & Kherson setbacks, and failing to precondition everyone for the conflict’s evolution into a defensive one.

  1. The Military End Game Remains Elusive & Russia Is Increasingly Struggling To Shape Events

The unexpected evolution of the conflict from an offensive to a defensive one for Russia resulted in it increasingly struggling to shape military events, thus leading to its adversaries stealing the strategic momentum and therefore being in a more confident position to dictate the end game. Short of waging total war to regain its losses, the best that Russia can now do is fortify the Line of Control, freeze the conflict, make its on-the-ground gains a fait accompli, and thus “save face” amidst de-escalation.

To remind the reader, these 20 constructive critiques of Russia’s special operation don’t imply that everything could have turned out differently given the limits of what was thought at the time and the mindset that influenced the Russian leadership’s efforts to resolve their security dilemma with NATO. That said, it’s also undeniable that diplomatic and perception management priorities coupled with serious intelligence shortcomings inadvertently impeded the military effectiveness of this campaign.

Be that as it arguably was, it would be premature for Russia’s supporters at home and abroad to submit to doom-and-gloom predictions about the special operation. The irony is that while this multipolar leader continues struggling to achieve its political, military, and strategic objectives in the Ukrainian Conflict, it unwittingly succeeded in unleashing powerful processes that forced the present bi-multipolar intermediary phase of the global systemic transition to accelerate its evolution to complex multipolarity.

China’s speculative superpower trajectory was offset (if not derailed) by this latest phase of the Ukrainian Conflict crippling the globalization processes upon which its grand strategy depended. India played a major role in that outcome by masterfully taking advantage of events to emerge as the kingmaker in the New Cold War through the perfection of its balancing act between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the jointly BRICS- and SCO-led Global South of which it’s a part.

Its pragmatic policy of principled neutrality pioneered the basis for reviving the previously defunct Non-Aligned Movement in a new form (“Neo-NAM”), which will facilitate the Global South’s collective rise as a third pole of influence alongside America and China. Furthermore, the emerging trilateral pole of influence between Russia, India, and Iran holds immense promise for revolutionizing Eurasia’s geostrategic affairs in this larger context, which also accelerates Saudi Arabia and Turkiye’s rise too.

These globally game-changing developments perfectly pair with Russia’s de facto leadership of the Global Revolutionary Movement to suggest that Moscow is winning the New Cold War. Upon President Putin appointing Army General Surovikin as commander of the entire special operation, there’s credible hope that the military situation will stabilize along the Line of Control, result in a stalemate that’s strategically favorable to Moscow, and thus complete the global systemic transition to multipolarity.

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