After the establishment of new command over the operation in Ukraine, fortification of the borders and now the retreat from the right bank of Dnepr, the Russians stabilized the entire front for now. The question rises what will happen next.
Russians seem to continue their attacks on the Ukrainian electrical distribution infrastructure. The soft, humanitarian approach (if such description can be used to describe a war) is being gradually abandoned, not as a result of any kind of ideological switch, but because this is the only tool Russians still possess to weaken Ukrainian resistance.
I will disregard any possible diplomatic “solution”, just because of my hope this rotten option will not be exercised by Russian leadership in order to take an easy way out of the mess they themselves created by letting the cancer of corruption to decompose the military.
So, after the other fronts will be fortified, the exhausted paratroopers from the Kherson relieved and given the time to rest and regroup, and the mobilized troops could be made minimally combat ready, the Russian contingent in Ukraine will have to retake the initiative.
Any continuation of wasteful and stupid frontal attacks on the most heavily defended defence lines needs to stop. Imagine what would happen if German Army would storm the Maginot line instead of taking a detour. It is possible the WWII would have ended right there and then. Yet, for some reason, Russians first dispersed their forces all over Ukraine, and then, will being in the process of collapse, directed them into months frontal long attacks against the Ukrainian defence lines in Donbass, to weaken themselves even more.
In order to succeed in such frontal attacks against fortified enemy, one need a supremacy in air, artillery, heavy armor and special, heavy assault units. Soviet Union had developed those in the second half of WWII. They had unmatched numbers of Il-2 attack plane, the most fearsome artillery and rocket forces, heavy IS tanks and special assault infantry with body armor and heavily armed.
Russian has nothing of this. Its army aviation cannot operate effectively because of the inadequacies of soft-defence suite (L-370 “Vitebsk”) it has developed, and no other alternatives are present. Its widely advertised GPS jamming systems are powerless against military grade GPS-guided munition. Its communication jamming hardware is unable to effectively deny Ukrainians satellite communications. Its artillery is lacking in numbers and quality: the Soviet era smart munition is not used widely as it should, and the newer types are hardly ever seen in use. Its heavy assault systems, developed for this kind of warfare, the TOS-1 are present in insignificant numbers only. The combat engineer and ABC-protection troops that had units exclusively intended for heavy assault are nowhere to be seen. It lacks the new heavy armor (T-14, T-15) or active defence systems. Its much-talked-about new netcentric warfare systems doesn’t seem operational in the least. Its missile forces are unable to sustain high rate of fire against high value targets, only making a few launches each day, and that includes strategic cruise missiles and Iranian suicide drones. Its most potent multiple-launch rocket system “Smerch” been rendered impotent thanks to its small numbers and lack of sufficient GPS-guided rockets or even the Soviet-era dedicated tube-launched reconnaissance drones. Instead, we see “dumb” munition fired by rockets troops, artillery and army-aviation, that requires dozens or shells or rockets to be fired in hope on one of them finding its intended target by sheer luck.
That doesn’t mean the Ukrainian defences lines couldn’t be encircled, though. There are still enough armor and mechanized troops to encircle the Donbass defence lines from behind. Cutting their supplies and reinforcements and creating the cauldron will enable Russia to achieve a decisive military and psychological victory, with tens of thousands of Ukrainian POW’s and the bulk of its military hardware captured or destroyed.
After that, the fast advance along the left bank of Dnepr to the north, up to Kiev and including the Kharkov city, and to the south up to and including Zaporozhye region. This will secure the Russian territories and population, as well as the newly annexed ones, from the terror of indiscriminate shelling. This is what the “second phase” was supposed to be.
The “third phase” is reestablishing the beachhead on the right bank of Dnepr and capturing the Nikolaev and Odessa. This will create a corridor to the stranded Transnistria.
After the completion of the third phase, the farther development should proceed according to the fact on the ground. It is very likely that at this point, the Ukrainian regime would fall due to the popular dismay and the abandonment of the sinking Ukrainian project by its Western enablers. If so, a true diplomatic solution could be achieved, provided the remaining Ukraine will disarm itself, gain neutral, unaligned status, outlaw the Nazi ideology and prosecute all those implicated in war crimes or crimes against humanity. If it won’t happen, then the war should continue until the total capitulation and Russian enforced control over its international borders.
In the previous post I said the Kherson retreat seems, or rather feels to me, like a pivotal point in this war. The crisis reached the point of stabilization. The next phase should be the retaking of the strategic initiative. I’m still not certain this will happen, since the political and military leadership that allowed this nightmare to happen is still largely intact and manning its seats of power. The ones dismissed weren’t the top tier, but rather higher middle-management. But hopefully their fates will urge the ones who remain to rethink their corrupted approach to their duty.
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