Such scenes are not necessarily unusual for armies in retreat. The phrase “bug out,” meaning a panicked reaction, entered the English lexicon following a particularly chaotic U.S. retreat in the Korean War in 1950. The more serious failure, said Chris Dougherty, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, was Russia’s failure to anticipate the offensive.
“What beggars belief is that they just don’t seem to link up intelligence with their operational planning and command and control effectively at all,” he told Grid. Dougherty said that for all the international media’s attention on Kherson, it would have been impossible for the Ukrainians to completely hide the troop buildup necessary for the Kharkiv offensive given Russia’s surveillance capabilities. In fact, Russian military bloggers had been sounding warnings on social media about a build-up near Kharkiv for weeks. “Either the Russians did see this force build up and they just didn’t think anything would happen. Or they just didn’t have the ability to respond,” Dougherty said.
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