By Nauman Sadiq for VT Islamabad
Russia’s invasion had damaged or destroyed up to 30% of Ukraine’s infrastructure at a cost of $100 billion, a Ukrainian minister alleged on April 18, adding reconstruction could be achieved in two years using “frozen Russian assets to help finance it.”
Oblivious to the concerns of Ukraine’s politicians regarding rebuilding damaged infrastructure of the embattled country during the war, the New York Times reported Wednesday the infrastructure sustained damage due to the myopic policy of scorched-earth tactics deployed by Ukrainians in order to hamper Russia’s blitz north of the capital in the early days of the war.
“The scorched-earth policy played an important role in Ukraine’s success in holding off Russian forces in the north and preventing them from capturing Kyiv, the capital,” military experts confided to NY Times. During the war, “over 300 bridges had been destroyed across Ukraine” by Ukrainians themselves, the country’s minister of infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, bragged. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the military had, without hesitation, blown up bridges, bombed roads and disabled railway lines and airports.
Demydiv, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv, was flooded when troops blew up a nearby dam and sent water surging into the countryside. Ukrainian forces flooded the area on Feb. 25, the second day of the war. The move was particularly effective, Ukrainian officials and soldiers say, creating a sprawling, shallow lake in front of the Russian armored columns.
The flooding that blocked the northern rim of Kyiv on the west bank of the Dnipro River played a pivotal role in the fighting in early March, as Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attempts to surround Kyiv. The waters created an effective barrier to tanks and funneled the assault force into ambushes and cramped, urban settings in a string of outlying towns — Hostomel, Bucha and Irpin.
Even two months later, despite the withdrawal of Russian forces north of the capital in late March, residents of Demydiv still paddled about in a rubber boat. Despite unequivocally acknowledging the dam was blown up by Ukrainians themselves but attempting in vain to implicate Russians, too, in the wanton act of vandalism, the NY Times report risibly claims “later, Russian shelling further damaged the dam, complicating efforts now to drain the area.”
Dubious Ukrainian claims of having repelled Russia’s assault on the capital by mounting guerrilla warfare and deploying scorched-earth tactics to the contrary, it’s an incontestable fact that the “40-mile-long” military convoy of battle tanks, armored vehicles and heavy artillery that descended from Belarus in the north and reached the outskirts of Kyiv in the early days of the war without encountering much resistance en route the capital was simply a decoy astutely designed as a diversionary tactic by Russia’s military strategists in order to deter Ukraine from sending reinforcements to Donbas in east Ukraine where real battles for territory were actually fought and scramble to defend the embattled country’s capital instead.
In the early days of Russia’s military campaign in north Ukraine, the Washington Post reported on March 5 the main threat to Kyiv appeared to be a massive Russian convoy, about 40 miles long, approaching Kyiv from the northwest and believed to be about 20 miles from the capital and stuck near a cargo airport.
Despite the wanton destruction of “over 300 bridges, blowing up dams to flood the countryside and disabling roads, railway lines and airports” in the state of panic by Ukraine’s security forces as contended by NY Times, the virtually nonexistent “resistance” and subversive scorched-earth tactics had no effect, whatsoever, on the lightning quick blitz of Russian forces north of the capital.
All the towns from the Belarus border to the northern approaches of the capital fell in quick succession. Russian forces continued advancing from the northwest of Kyiv, capturing Bucha, Hostomel and Vorzel on the outskirts of the capital by March 5, and Irpin by March 9.
Quite astonishingly, however, instead of mounting a long-awaited assault on the capital, it was reported on March 11 that the convoy had largely dispersed, taking up positions in forests around the capital, before withdrawing back to Belarus after the announcement of scaling back Russia’s military campaign in north Ukraine at Istanbul peace initiative on March 29.
Clearly, commanders of the military convoy had explicit instructions to spare the city of four million people. The indiscriminate bombardment of the densely populated Ukrainian capital and the ensuing urban warfare against heavily armed Ukrainian militant groups nurtured by NATO patrons would inevitably have caused thousands of needless civilian casualties. Therefore, the Russian military’s top brass decided to spare the rest of the embattled country and restricted Russian military offensive on liberating Russian-majority Donbas region in east Ukraine.
While the Russian military convoy was knocking on Kyiv’s doors, Ukrainian politicians were so alarmed that a senior Ukrainian government official announced in the state of panic that Ukraine must hold off Russia’s attack for the next seven to ten days to deny Moscow claiming any sort of victory.
Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said on March 9: “They need at least some victory before they are forced into the final negotiations,” Denysenko wrote on Facebook. “Therefore our task is to stand for the next 7-10 days.” Forget about repelling the assault on the capital, it was considered a “stellar victory” by Ukraine’s “valiant political and military leadership” to delay Russia’s inevitable takeover of Kyiv by a week.
Publicly acknowledging the impending fall of Kyiv in the face of Russian blitz and contending that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky would soon form a government-in-exile, which would lead a guerrilla warfare campaign from safe havens in Poland, the Washington Post reported on March 5:
“The possible Russian takeover of Kyiv has prompted a flurry of planning at the State Department, Pentagon and other U.S. agencies in the event that the Zelensky government has to flee the capital or the country itself. ‘We’re doing contingency planning now for every possibility,’ including a scenario in which Zelensky establishes a government-in-exile in Poland, said a U.S. administration official.
“Zelensky, who has called himself Russia’s target No. 1, remains in Kyiv and has assured his citizens he’s not leaving. He has had discussions with U.S. officials about whether he should move west to a safer position in the city of Lviv, closer to the Polish border. Zelensky’s security detail has plans ready to swiftly relocate him and members of his cabinet, a senior Ukrainian official said. ‘So far, he has refused to go.’”
“This is a special military operation. If Russia were fighting a full-scale war, it would have been over long ago. This would have happened if we used the United States customary carpet bombings and scorched land tactics, repeatedly employed by ‘the world’s most democratic Air Force’ in Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq and Syria,” Russia’s State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel Monday.
On his first foreign visit to Belarus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained during a joint press conference with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on April 12 that the time frame of the military offensive in Ukraine was determined by the intensity of hostilities and Russia would act according to its plan.
“I often get these questions, can’t we hurry it up?’ We can. But it depends on the intensity of hostilities and, any way you put it, the intensity of hostilities is directly related to casualties,” said the Russian president. “Our task is to achieve the set goals while minimizing these losses. We will act rhythmically, calmly, and according to the plan that was initially proposed by the General Staff.”
Putin reiterated that Russia’s actions in several regions of Ukraine, implying diversionary tactics deployed by Russian forces in Kyiv and Chernihiv in the north, were intended only “to tie down enemy forces” and carry out missile strikes with the purpose of “destroying the Ukrainian military’s infrastructure,” so as to “create conditions for more active operations on the territory of Donbas.”
In a bombshell NBC scoop published April 7, the authors of the report alleged that US spy agencies used deliberate and selective intelligence leaks to mainstream news outlets to mount a disinformation campaign against Russia during the latter’s month-long military offensive in Ukraine lasting from late February to late March, despite being aware the intelligence wasn’t credible, and sometimes even publicizing downright fabrications.
The US intelligence assessment that Russia was preparing to use chemical weapons in the Ukraine War, that was widely reported in the corporate media and confirmed by President Biden himself, was an unsubstantiated claim leaked to the press as a tit-for-tat response to the damning Russian allegation that Ukraine was pursuing an active biological weapons program, in collaboration with Washington, in scores of bio-labs discovered by Russian forces in Ukraine in early days of the military campaign.
The NBC report noted: “It was an attention-grabbing assertion that made headlines around the world: US officials said they had indications suggesting Russia might be preparing to use chemical agents in Ukraine. President Joe Biden later said it publicly. But three US officials told NBC News this week there was no evidence Russia had brought any chemical weapons near Ukraine. They said the US released the information to deter Russia from using the banned munitions.
“Multiple US officials acknowledged that the US had used information as a weapon even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high. Sometimes it had used low-confidence intelligence for deterrent effect, as with chemical agents, and other times, as an official put it, the US was just ‘trying to get inside Putin’s head.’”
The crux of the NBC report, however, isn’t what’s being disclosed but rather what’s still being withheld by the US intelligence community that the mainstream news outlets are not at liberty to report on, as is obvious from the misleading NY Times report that mounting fierce guerrilla warfare campaign and deploying scorched-earth tactics by Ukraine’s largely conscript military and allied neo-Nazi militant groups repelled Russia’s assault on the capital and the Russian withdrawal wasn’t a consequence of a calculated military strategy.
Despite being aware of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s major unilateral concession to Kyiv, halting Russian offensive north of the capital and focusing on liberating Russian-majority Donbas in east Ukraine, practically spelling an end to Russia’s month-long offensive in Ukraine, US security officials, as quoted by the corporate media, are still deceptively asserting that Russia’s pullout from areas around Kyiv “wasn’t a retreat but a strategic redeployment” that signals a “significant assault on eastern and southern Ukraine,” one that US officials believe could be a “protracted and bloody fight.”
Regarding the nefarious disinformation campaign mounted by the mainstream media on behalf of NATO powers, the report notes: “The idea is to pre-empt and disrupt the Kremlin’s tactics, complicate its military campaign, undermine Moscow’s propaganda and prevent Russia from defining how the war is perceived in the world, said a Western government official familiar with the strategy.”
By mid-March, after the “40-mile-long” military convoy of armored vehicles that created panic in the rank and file of Ukraine’s security forces and their international backers and that didn’t move an inch further after reaching the outskirts of Kyiv in the early days of the war, it became obvious even to lay observers of the Ukraine War that it was evidently a diversionary tactic. But US security agencies insidiously kept feeding false information of impending fall of the Ukrainian capital to the mainstream media throughout Russia’s month-long military campaign in Ukraine.
Only two conclusions could be drawn from this scaremongering tactic: either it was a massive intelligence failure and Western security agencies weren’t aware the “40-mile-long” convoy approaching the capital was a ruse; or the NATO’s spy agencies had credible intelligence since the beginning of Russia’s military campaign that real battles for territory would be fought in Donbas in east Ukraine and the feigned assault on the capital was simply a diversionary tactic but they exaggerated the threat in order to vilify Russia’s calculated military offensive in Ukraine, and win the war of narratives that “how the war is perceived across the world.”
Even in the weeks after the unilateral Russian peace initiative announced on March 29, offering scaling back its blitz north of the capital and focusing instead on liberating Russian-majority Donbas region in east Ukraine, a task that has already been accomplished in large measure, Western intelligence community and the mainstream media kept warning the gullible audience Russia’s pullout from areas around Kyiv “wasn’t a retreat but a strategic redeployment” and that Russian forces had withdrawn back into Belarus and Russia simply to “regroup, refit and resupply.”
Compared to 150-190,000 Russian troops deployed in Ukraine before the withdrawal process began in late March, the total number of battalion tactical groups in the country currently stands at 78, all of them in the south and the east in the Donbas region. That would translate to about 55,000 to 62,000 troops, based on what the Pentagon said at the start of the war was the typical unit strength of 700 to 800 soldiers. In other words, two-third of Russian troops deployed in Ukraine have withdrawn back to Russia and Belarus while only one-third remain in east Ukraine battling neo-Nazi militant groups trained and equipped by the CIA.