The strange-looking escape of the Russian army into Ukraine has already happened. This is a Russian tradition that is not taught in school. But it exists.
Some time ago I read with some trepidation the book, stepping on hundreds of documents, by Mark Solonin “June 22, 1941 – Anatomy of the Catastrophe”. His explanation for the astonishing military successes of the Germans in the first months of the invasion of the USSR is simple: they ran headlong, dragging their loot. First the generals and colonels run away, crammed into cars with their lovers and looted from the population. The majors and captains run after them.
It was characteristic then – as it is today – that the officers ran east without leaving any orders to the privates, sergeants and lieutenants who remained in place. In the book, there is a moving scene described how a staff car, crammed to the brim with trophy sheets and quilts, stops in the middle of the bivouac of the bewildered army. Through the open window, a major shouts to the soldiers: “This war will be long and difficult. Good luck, well done!” – and dusts off to the rear.
Deprived of leadership, the Soviet army became a dazed mob that either perished senselessly or surrendered.
According to the official Russian version of history, the Germans reached Moscow, Leningrad and the Asian steppes so quickly because they had the advantage in everything: planes, tanks, guns, men. However, there is no such thing in the archives. The Germans had less of everything. Even most of the tanks with which they do the blitzkrieg in the USSR are trophies – Czech and French; the legendary “Tigers” were still mostly in the factories. In addition, they had only two things: fighting spirit and organization on the battlefield.
It’s the same today. An army is running, which has more than anything – except fighting spirit and organization. This time, the top commanders, again running first, use helicopters for the purpose. But in the end they once again leave on the battlefield a bewildered uniformed crowd incapable of military action.
Why is this happening?
The reasons, in 1941 and in 2022, are the same. Both then and now, the Russian army is on foreign territory. Then, she fled from territories separated from Poland and the Baltic republics in 1939-40, under the treaty with Hitler. Freshly captured, these territories are perceived as looting grounds. This is exactly what the Soviet military was doing during the entire period until June 22, 1941, instead of conducting measures to strengthen the borders and organize their defense. Considering themselves bandits rather than soldiers, Russian commanders valued booty more than service. Therefore, at the critical moment, they focus on saving the loot, and not on carrying the service.
Today the Russians are on the territory of Ukraine and also, as we know from day one, they are indulging in looting. In their minds, the most important thing is to keep the loot, not to demonstrate fighting spirit.
As for the other thing missing – organization on the battlefield – it is absent again, as it was absent two generations ago.
The reason is clear: Russian society is a chaotic society. As any Western visitor immediately notices, nothing works there as it should. It’s the same in the army. No one ever knows exactly what’s going on. Everyone is rushing there – and so are you. Then everyone rushes in another direction – you run with them. Only the top commanders know what must happen. That is why in the offensive phase of the war the Russians lost such a huge number of generals and colonels: they are simply forced to be at the front to explain what is wanted. And when they escape, it’s all over.
However, how do they explain their behavior to the superiors when they reach Moscow with the loot? And we know this from Solonin’s book: they lie. It is based on their lies, since 1941, that the official Russian history has been compiled. She claims that all those who escaped were withdrawing to avoid being surrounded by dozens of German airborne troops. According to German documents, however, on June 22, 1941, as well as in the days after, not a single such landing took place in Russia. Most likely, the generals who escaped from Ukraine are offering Putin some such lies right now.
In general, lies, as well as chaos, are the constant state of Russian society. Everyone lies to everyone, especially the superiors. Lying leads to another characteristic feature: sham. Everything is a sham, incl. those very weapons displayed in military parades in Red Square. They are either mock-ups or exist in singles to be shown to the chief. Therefore, weapons from the 1950s and 70s are used on the battlefield, which come across Ukrainian weapons from the 21st century. That is why the “legendary” divisions (including the Taman division, defeated by the Ukrainians that day) turn out to be “floor warriors”.
Due to its inherent chaos, lies and sham, the USSR lost the Cold War. For the same reasons, today Russia is losing the Ukrainian war. After that loss, the USSR collapsed. Once the Russians realize the extent of the catastrophe in Ukraine, Russia will also collapse. We hope – as we hoped in the early 1990s – that it will be succeeded by decent nation states. Let’s see.