Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in.

I had quite a Ukraine war news addiction for a couple of weeks months there earlier this year. I had to go cold turkey because it was doing my head in.

I found myself scanning the newswires again this week, looking for updates on the Kherson offensive. It’s both deeply satisfying and a little bit scary, given that Putin seems entirely capable of lobbing a few nukes around simply to save his own worthless skin.

On the other hand, it serves his purposes to think that way, and the Ukrainians don’t seem to care. They’re just punching on and on and on.

If you’re looking for a good analytic summary, Lawrence Freedman is always worth a read.

He published this piece about Russia losing the war slowly, then all at once, before that became the story of the week.

“How did you go bankrupt?”

Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

As with bankruptcy so with military defeat. What appears to be a long, painful grind can quickly turn into a rout. A supposedly resilient and well-equipped army can break and look for means of escape. This is not unusual in war. We saw it happen with the Afghan Army in the summer of 2021.

For the past few days we have been witnessing a remarkable Ukrainian offensive in Kharkiv. We have the spectacle of a bedraggled army in retreat - remnants of a smashed-up convoy, abandoned vehicles, positions left in a hurry, with scattered kit and uneaten food, miserable prisoners, and local people cheering on the Ukrainian forces as they drive through their villages. The speed of advance has been impressive, as tens of square kilometres turn into hundreds and then thousands, and from a handful of villages and towns liberated to dozens. Even as I have been writing this post paragraphs keep on getting overtaken by events.