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Ukrainian ‘counter-offensive’ was media invention to boost Kiev’s morale

Ukrainian, Russian


Ukrainian ‘counter-offensive’ was media invention to boost Kiev’s morale

What really happened was a tactical retreat by Russia, which is now beginning to be reversed into high-fire combat actions. Writes Lucas Leiroz

Recently, the advance of Ukrainian troops on territories occupied by Russian forces has caused enthusiasm in the West. Pro-Ukrainian media outlets began to announce that Kiev had successfully performed a major military counter-offensive, defeating Russian soldiers, regaining territory, and rapidly advancing towards a possible “victory”. However, this kind of irresponsible conduct on the part of the media completely failed to demonstrate what was actually happening.


Several Ukrainian operations have been dubbed by the media as a “counter-offensive”. Most of these missions have been absolutely unsuccessful, as was the case recently in Kherson. However, the recent Ukrainian advance in the Kharkov region was recognized as a military victory by Kiev due to the Russian retreat announced on  September 10. Large areas were abandoned by Moscow’s troops, suggesting that Russian soldiers were fleeing confrontation with the enemy and surrendering their positions. Official sources in Kiev even claimed that its forces had “reconquered” more than 3,000 kilometers of territory.

Obviously, the news was spread as a symbol of the “strength” and “resilience” of the Ukrainian soldiers. The so-called “Ukrainian resistance” was applauded throughout the western world. The media channels repeatedly reinforced the “importance” of military and financial support to Kiev, showing how the “results” of the aid packages were positively influencing the “Ukrainian resistance” in this counteroffensive. Kiev’s morale was boosted. Zelensky and several Ukrainian officials began to announce that the country was heading towards military victory. But this euphoria was short and the reality about the situation was quickly revealed.


In the early hours of September 12, Russian forces began a series of tactical operations against strategic targets on Ukrainian soil, causing serious damage to Kiev’s forces. The operations focused on critical infrastructure targets. Several cities in the country became absolutely without electricity and internet, cutting off the Ukrainian main civil and military communication platforms. Local information and propaganda vehicles went offline, and Ukraine lost most of its domestic media capacity. Some sources claim that 50% of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure was destroyed in just two hours of Russian tactical actions.

In parallel, the Russians also intensified heavy artillery work on several other targets. Successful mobilizations took place at strategic points and provided several gains. Furthermore, it must be mentioned that even during the retreat of the Russian forces from Kharkiv, there were confrontations in various places, where casualties were inflicted on the enemies. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that in the last few days 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers involved in the “counter-offensive” were killed, in addition to 8,000 more wounded.


Obviously, these data are inconsistent with the western narrative that Ukraine is reversing the military scenario of the conflict. And indeed it is impossible to analyze the case from a realistic point of view and believe that there was some kind of Ukrainian “victory” instead of a Russian tactical retreat. The Russian military advantage gained so far would not allow such a huge territorial loss to happen so easily. This leads us to believe that what happened was a retreat strategically designed in order to allow new forms of attack.

The Russians were keeping military numbers at a low level in the evacuated regions, while Kiev is attacking in full force, uniting almost all of its troops. A direct confrontation scenario would be exhausting for both sides and lead to unnecessary casualties, as well as significantly harming the Russian forces which would be in numerical disadvantage. Therefore, the Russians retreated and fortified a line of defense near the Donbass, where it was possible to form a strong front against the enemies. From this strategic position, new attacks began to be planned and executed.


The Ukrainian infrastructure is being neutralized precisely as a first stage of this new Russian offensive. By destroying enemy communication and damaging their logistical bases, the Russians will be able to advance more easily towards the retaking of abandoned territories. Returning to Donbass, the Russians will be able to recompose their military personnel.

In recent hours, the Western media has tried to omit Russian tactical successes against Ukrainian infrastructure. The aim is to try to prolong the pro-Kiev narrative and keep Ukrainian morale high, while accelerating the push for new military aid packages. But this fallacious narrative is unlikely to last long. It is improbable that the alleged “counter-offensive” will change the scenario of unpopularity of the aid policy in the face of American and European public opinion.

As Russia continues to have control of the conflict and is expected to increase incursions in the coming days, the media’s attempt to justify the military assistance to Kiev with baseless inventions such as this “counter-offensive” will only be seen with more antipathy by citizens of Western countries amid the current wave of protests against NATO and sanctions.

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

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