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Ukraine Liberates Kharkiv Oblast

When Ukraine scored its first victory [1] in the War of Russian Aggression, I noted what was to come.

Putin will redeploy much of his beaten force into Ukraine’s east, where they still have two mini-Putinist allied regimes and a far better military position than they had in Kyiv. The fact that Russia has not pulled back from Kharkiv is a clear sign that Putin still wants more of Ukraine than he has now – a lot more.

NATO and the democratic world now have to decide if they’re ready to go all in for Ukraine.

Since then, the Biden Administration has led the way in support for requesting and convincing Congress to provide $40 billion in support for Ukraine. They overrode the objections of the Kremlin caucus, including Virginia’s own KGBob [2]. That didn’t stop the Putinists, uber-Trumpers, and anti-anti-Putinists. They started wailing that this was money badly spent and that Ukraine would never retake territory lost to Russia in the initial stage of the 2022 invasion.

This was from Friday [3].

Tucker Carlson’s top Russia-Ukraine war expert Douglas MacGregor, on Friday night: “This entire war may be over” soon, “right now things are going very, very badly,” for the Ukrainians and they’re “desperate,” “they’re losing once again just south of Kharkiv.”

As Tucker and his fellow traveler were warbling, reality was going very differently (WaPo [4]).

In the end, the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals. Hours after Ukrainian soldiers poured into the area, hundreds of Russian soldiers encamped in this village were gone, many after their units abandoned them, leaving behind stunned residents to face the ruins of 28 weeks of occupation.

Over the weekend, practically all of Kharkiv Oblast was retaken (WaPo [5]). At one point there were even rumors of fighting near Donetsk city, but that’s unlikely.

“The Russians are in trouble,” one U.S. official said bluntly. “The question will be how the Russians will react, but their weaknesses have been exposed and they don’t have great manpower reserves or equipment reserves.”

Ukrainian forces appeared to be moving ahead carefully and consolidating their gains, another official said, noting that Russian forces seem to have recognized that they lacked the weapons and manpower to hold newly liberated towns and villages in the northeast of the country. Some Russian forces abandoned tanks, armored vehicles and ammunition [6] as they fled.

In other words, Ukraine knows this will take time, and they’re playing it smart. As they did in the Battle of Kyiv, the Ukrainian people once again have proven both adversaries and critics to be spectacularly wrong.

Sadly, both adversaries and critics are still out there (Defense One [7]).

Conservative groups are lobbying members of Congress to vote against the White House’s request for additional money for Ukraine, arguing that the administration is asking for a blank check with no long-term plan to end the war.

The White House announced [8] Friday that it would request an additional $13.7 billion [9] to help Ukraine between October and December, including $11.7 for security and economic assistance and $2 billion to reduce energy costs that have increased during the war. Congress has already approved two supplemental funding packages, for $13.6 billion in March and $40 billion in May.

Conservative groups, including Heritage Action [10] and Concerned Veterans for America, [11] quickly urged lawmakers to reject the plea for additional aid.

How many Republicans will put the wishes of the Kremlin ahead of the fight for democracy? How many Virginians will go along with KGBob? We’ll find out soon enough.