The Eighth Battle of Kharkiv

Ah, the past. It's so comforting because it's already happened and we can control it. Economic and political subjects are also welcome.
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sharoma
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The Eighth Battle of Kharkiv

Post by sharoma »

A couple of weeks ago I read some articles detailing the deliberations the German government is going through. Germany alone represents 28% of the Euro area economy. They are an industrial powerhouse and they make a fortune exporting all kinds of advanced goods (in 2022, their exports earned them $1.62 trillion, a figure just below the entire value of Spain’s economy in 2024). Up until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Germany and Russia had a considerable trading partnership. Germany’s economy relies on relatively cheap energy, energy they do not themselves possess.

The deliberations revolve around the awkward fact that Europe’s defence is, to paraphrase Olaf Scholz, dependent on the American electorate. That is, if Trump is elected, Europe may be ‘on its own’. Germany is increasingly aware of the fact that European defence ‘goes over their heads’. The vast majority of monetary and military aid has come from the USA. The UK, with a smaller population and economy, has contributed more money. France and the UK are shifting their stance regarding the deployment of ground troops within Ukraine. Already the UK has contributed missiles to Ukraine capable of hitting targets inside Russia. These are significant escalations, taken with great risk considering Russia’s continued threats to use nuclear weapons.

The simple fact is, Germany needs to step up and stop putting butter before guns. It is increasingly likely that Kharkiv may fall or at the least be invested again by the Russians. Already Ukrainian civilians are fleeing outlying villages and heading towards their country’s second largest city. As this is going on, German corporations continue to produce luxury vehicles for profit, ignoring the threat to their east. It is Germany’s job to defend Europe. They are geographically closer to Ukraine, they are richer, they have a far more capable industrial base, and a larger population than the UK or France. They are the leaders of the European Union, which the UK isn't even part of anymore. Again, there may also be a historical reticence because of their previous crimes in the area.

In World War 2, there were four major battles for Kharkov, as it was then known:

In the First Battle of Kharkov, Germany’s losses are unknown. Russia lost 96,509 men.
In the Second Battle of Kharkov, Germany lost 20,000-30,000 men and Russia lost 277,190 men.
In the Third Battle of Kharkov, Germany lost 11,500 men and Russia lost 86,469 men.
In the final battle, known as the Belgorod–Kharkov offensive operation, Germany lost between 25,068 and 26,289 men while Russia lost between 177,586 and 255,566 men.

These figures no not include civilian losses. Using the conservative estimates, in total Germany lost 56,568 men and Russia lost 637,754 men fighting for Kharkov. That’s a total manpower loss for both sides of 694,322 men. There was also a battle for the city during the Russian Civil War in 1919 as well as two battles for the city in 2022. Russia launched the 2024 Kharkiv offensive three days ago (on May 10th, 2024). This represents the eighth armed contest for this city in 105 years. That’s an average of one battle for Kharkiv every 13.1 years! Clearly this city is key to the defence of Eastern Europe.

Poland is already rearming and raising new forces. Russia is assembling new armies behind the front, in preparation for a major offensive in late spring or early summer. Germany knows it can not, and should not, be relying on lesser European powers or a remote superpower to defend Europe. It needs to start producing more weapons and moving its economy over to a war footing. The world certainly does not need more BMW SUVs or Mercedes saloons.
Robin
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sharoma
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Re: The Eighth Battle of Kharkiv

Post by sharoma »

It looks like Ukraine has managed for the moment to keep heavy combat away from Kharkiv, which is of course good news for the residents there. I read that in an early assault Russia lost 4,000 troops. This is an alarming casualty figure for 2024. I cannot imagine the devastation to the units involved and the possible collapse in morale. One thing we know from history is that Russian forces can absorb huge losses and still remain in the field. Sycorax informed me yesterday that not only are the Russians now mobilizing female convicts, but also that their industries are now critically short of workers. With Russia seemingly faltering again, perhaps they are contemplating a serious force multiplier, such as a tactical nuclear weapon or an extremely powerful conventional one? If they can inflict enough civilian casualties in one attack, they may hope this forces Ukraine to reluctantly surrender to avoid further devastation to the civilian population.

Also, now that American weapons are arriving and the Ukrainians are striking targets inside Russia, how will Putin respond? Ukraine has already managed to reduce the intensity of missile attacks on and around Kharkiv by striking at the launch sites inside Russian territory. Russia continues to slog onwards, and apparently took two villages yesterday, a report which Ukraine doesn't confirm or deny.
Robin
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