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September 5, 2023
By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers
A forewarning new Security Council (SC) report circulating in the Kremlin today first noting President Putin factually declaring: “Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive has not stalled but failed”, says this factual declaration was joined by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu revealing: “Ukraine has suffered heavy losses during three months of its summer counteroffensive against Russia but has failed to achieve its goals at any part of the front line...Kiev’s forces have lost more than 66,000 troops and over 7,600 heavy weapons since launching their push in early June...Despite the colossal cost in manpower and equipment, the Ukrainian government continues its operation because it desperately needs to show some kind of success to its Western sponsors”.
Quickly following Defense Minister Shoigu revealing the staggering losses Ukraine is suffering, this report notes, it was reported: “Ukrainian lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted to relieve Aleksey Reznikov of his duties as defense minister”—a report joined by former US Marine intelligence officer and United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter assessing: “As the Western establishment media begins to come to grips with the scope and scale of Ukraine’s eventual military defeat (and, by extension, the reality of a decisive Russian military victory), their political overseers in the US, NATO, and the European Union struggle to define what the endgame will be...Having articulated the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as an existential struggle where the very survival of NATO is on the line, these Western politicians now have the task of shaping public perception in a manner that mitigates any meaningful, sustained political blowback from constituents who have been deceived into tolerating the transfer of billions of dollars from their respective national treasuries, and billions more dollars worth of weapons from their respective arsenals, into a lost and disgraced cause”.
Along with Politico observing: “The problem that’s dogged Western allies from the start, as they never collectively identified clear Ukrainian war aims — partly because trying to do so would have likely risked allied unity — and so “winnable” wasn’t ever defined”, this report continues, Yahoo News just revealed: “As Ukraine presses ahead in its slow-moving counteroffensive against Russia, some US officials appear to be growing increasingly concerned...Half a dozen US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New York Times and other outlets that they are starting to question some of Ukraine's military tactics, including where on the frontline they are placing their combat units”—is a revelation critical to notice because former CIA analyst Larry Johnson just explained that the United States intelligence community is a “like a feudal society”, where its feudal lords at war with each other—because the Director of National Intelligence is blatantly lying about Ukraine, it has forced the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency to become the anonymous sources cited by the American media, both of whom factually reported to the Socialist Biden Regime:
•The Russian economy is robust and healthy despite Western sanctions.
•Russian leaders and their people genuinely believe they face an existential threat from the West.
While the Socialist Biden Regime and its leftist fake news media lapdogs continue lying about Ukraine, this report details, without any doubt truthfully briefed by the Defense Intelligence Agency is former Pentagon senior advisor and decorated combat tactical legend retired US Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, Ph.D., who just fired off the warning: “Washington knows Ukraine is close to collapse...The Russians have become much better than they were a year and a half ago...They're probably the best army in the world...Make peace you fools!”—a warning that joined the American defense article “Bad Omens For The Ukrainians”, wherein it most factually observed: “Contrary to what certain pro-Western analysts and officials have asserted, the Russian side of the northeastern Ukrainian border is packed with troops...We haven't seen this "doom army" yet because the Russians are still pursuing their Fabian strategy of letting the Ukrainians and their NATO sponsors beat themselves bloody against their defensive line in the Donbass...The Russians can now be expected to launch a large-scale offensive at a time, place, and in circumstances of their choosing - given the exhaustion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in its monthslong offensive the time for "big red arrows" is ripening”.
Among those knowing that Russia would deploy a “doom army” to destroy Ukraine and its warmongering socialist Western colonial supporters, this report concludes, is world renowned American military-political scientist Professor John Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, who warned on 25 September 2015: “The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked”, and in his just released open letter “Bound To Lose: Ukraine’s 2023 Counteroffensive” assessed:
It is now clear that
After three months, the Ukrainian army has made little progress pushing back the Russians. Indeed, it has yet to get beyond the so-called “grey zone”, the heavily contested strip of land that lies in front of the first main line of Russian defenses. The New York Times reports that “In the first two weeks of the counteroffensive, as much as 20 percent of the weaponry Ukraine sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to U.S. and European officials. The toll included some of the formidable Western fighting machines — tanks and armored personnel carriers — that the Ukrainians were counting on to beat back the Russians”. According to virtually all accounts of the fighting, Ukrainian troops have suffered enormous casualties. All nine of the vaunted brigades that NATO armed and trained for the counteroffensive have been badly chewed up on the battlefield.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive was doomed to fail from the start. A look at the lineup of forces on both sides and what the Ukrainian army was trying to do, coupled with an understanding of the history of conventional land war, make it clear that there was virtually no chance the attacking Ukrainian forces could defeat Russia’s defending forces and achieve their political goals.
As the historical record makes clear, this is an especially difficult operation to pull off when the attacking forces are engaged in a fair fight – one involving two roughly equal militaries. The Ukrainians were not only involved in a fair fight, but they were also ill-prepared to execute a blitzkrieg and were facing an adversary well-positioned to thwart one. In short, the deck was stacked against the Ukrainian counteroffensive from the start.
Nevertheless, there was
pervasive optimism about
In fact, Western leaders
and the mainstream media put significant pressure on Kyiv to launch the
counteroffensive in the months before it began on 4 June. At the time,
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later said on 21 July that, “We did have plans to start it in the spring, but we didn’t because, frankly, we had not enough munitions and armaments and not enough properly trained brigades”. Moreover, after the counteroffensive began, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Ukrainian military’s commander in chief, angrily told The Washington Post that he felt the West had not provided Ukraine with adequate arms and that “without being fully supplied, these plans are not feasible at all. But they are being carried out”.
Even after the
counteroffensive bogged down, which happened shortly after it started, many
optimists continued to hold out hope that it would eventually succeed, although
their numbers have declined over time.
A week later, on 22 August,
when it was hard to deny that the counteroffensive was in serious trouble and
there was hardly any chance of rectifying the situation, Jake Sullivan, the
notwithstanding, many in the West now
recognize that the counteroffensive has failed, and
The Russian and Ukrainian
militaries have been engaged in a fair fight since the war began in February
2022. The Russian invasion force, which
was comprised of 190,000 troops at most, conquered a substantial amount of
Ukrainian territory, but soon found itself overextended. In other words, it did not have sufficient
troops to defend all the Ukrainian territory it controlled. Consequently, the Russians withdrew most of
their forces from the Kharkiv oblast, which allowed the Ukrainian army to
overwhelm the remaining few.
Subsequently, the overstretched Russian army was forced to withdraw from
the slice of the
In response to the events
in Kharkiv and
Bakhmut was a serious defeat for Ukraine, in part because Zelensky publicly
said that he and his generals were determined to hold the city and because he
committed many of
Indeed, there was reason to
think that the West might not remain fully committed to supplying
THE ABC’S OF BLITZKRIEG
A blitzkrieg relies on the mobility and speed inherent in an armored strike force to defeat an opponent without engaging a series of bloody and protracted battles. That strategy is predicated on the assumption that the opponent’s army is a large and complex machine that is geared to fighting along a well-established defensive line. In the machine’s rear lies a vulnerable network, which comprises numerous lines of communication, along which information and supplies move, as well as key nodal points where the various lines intersect. Destruction of this central nervous system is tantamount to the destruction of the defending army.
A blitzkrieg involves two major operations: winning a breakthrough battle and executing a deep strategic penetration. To be more specific, the attacker aims to surreptitiously concentrate its armored forces at a specific location or two along the front line, where the defender’s force-to-space ratio is low and where the attacker can achieve numerical superiority over the defender. A defense that is thinly spread out and outnumbered is relatively easy to break through. After opening a hole or two in the defender’s front line, the attacker seeks to move rapidly into the depths of the defense before the target state’s forces can move to cut off the penetration. Although it may be necessary to engage in a set-piece battle to accomplish the initial breakthrough, a high premium is placed on avoiding further battles of this sort. Instead, the attacker follows the path of least resistance deep into the defender’s rear.
The tank, with its inherent flexibility, is the ideal weapon for making a blitzkrieg work. Artillery, however, does not play a major role in blitzkrieg, in part because it requires significant logistical support, which interferes with the rapid movement of second-echelon forces into the expanding salient and more generally is a drag on mobility. Furthermore, engaging in large-scale artillery exchanges would waste valuable time and slow down the advancing armored forces. Close air support, on the other hand, presents none of these problems. Given the inherent flexibility of airplanes, drones, and helicopters, this flying artillery is an excellent counterpart to fast-moving armored forces.
As should be obvious, a blitzkrieg demands a flexible command structure peopled from top to bottom with soldiers capable of exercising initiative in combat situations where the fog of war is sometimes thick. A blitzkrieg is not based on a rigid plan that commanders must follow closely. In fact, the opposite is true. Before launching the attack, an overall objective is set, and detailed plans for the breakthrough battle are prepared. But there are no rigid guidelines for the commanders to follow as they conduct the deep strategic penetration. The underlying assumption is that no one can predict with any degree of certainty how the battle will develop. Uncertainty will be commonplace and therefore risks will have to be taken. In essence, a high premium is placed on a commander’s ability to make rapid-fire decisions that will enable the armored forces to maintain a high speed of advance in the wake of winning the breakthrough battle. Boldness is essential, even when information is incomplete, so that the attacking army can maintain the initiative.
Finally, some words are in order about the objectives associated with blitzkrieg. The usual aim is to decisively defeat the defender’s military forces. It is possible, however, to employ a blitzkrieg to win a limited victory, where the defending forces are encircled and clobbered but not completely defeated, and where the attacker captures a significant amount of the defender’s territory. The problem with not scoring a decisive victory, however, is that the fighting is likely to continue, which almost certainly means a war of attrition. Modern wars, it should be emphasized, not only tend to escalate, but they are also difficult to end. Thus, leaders have a powerful incentive to employ a blitzkrieg to win a decisive victory over the defending army, and not to pursue a limited victory.
Bringing In The Defender
The focus up to now has been on how the offender executes a blitzkrieg. But to fully understand the workings of a blitzkrieg and the likelihood of one succeeding, it is essential to consider the defender’s capabilities as well as its strategy for thwarting a blitzkrieg.
The key issue regarding capabilities is what the balance of forces between the defender and the offender looks like. Is there rough equality in terms of the quality and quantity of both their troops and their armaments? If so, a fair fight is in store. If one side, however, has clearly superior fighting forces in terms of either quality, quantity, or both, it will be an unfair fight. The difference between a fair and an unfair fight matters greatly for determining a blitzkrieg’s prospects of success.
For starters, it is much more difficult to make a blitzkrieg work in a fair fight, because the defender is not outmatched from the get-go. It is a tangle between two formidable fighting forces, not a mismatch, which makes it difficult for the attacker to be confident of success. Additionally, the consequences of a failed blitzkrieg are markedly different in the two types of fights. If a blitzkrieg fails in a fair fight, the result is likely to be to be a protracted war of attrition where the outcome is difficult to predict. After all, the conflict is between evenly matched opponents. But if a blitzkrieg comes up short in an unfair fight, the attacker is almost certain to win the ensuing war rather quickly and easily, simply because it enjoys a marked material advantage over the defender.
The defender’s strategy for thwarting a blitzkrieg also has a profound influence on the outcome. At the most basic level, the target state can deploy its forces in three different ways: forward defense, defense-in-depth, and mobile defense.
With forward defense, most of the defender’s forces are placed on the line separating the opposing armies to prevent the attacker from making a breakthrough. The defender also locates a reasonable number of its fighting forces behind the front line in mobile reserves that can move rapidly to shut down a potential breakthrough. The emphasis, however, is on defending in force along the initial line of contact. This is not to deny, however, that the defender can be tactically flexible in how it handles the attacking forces along the front line. For example, it might attempt to draw them into controlled zones where they can be pummeled by artillery.
Defense in depth is comprised of a series of well-defended lines – one a good distance behind the other – which are designed to wear the attacking army down as it fights its way through each defensive belt. Not only is it difficult for the attacking forces to break through the first line of defense, but even if they do, there is no possibility of outrunning the defender’s reserves and executing a deep strategic penetration. Instead, the attacker must fight a series of set-piece battles as it attempts to punch through the defender’s successive lines of defense.
Defense in depth is ideally suited for thwarting a blitzkrieg; it is probably the best of the three strategies for that purpose. Its major drawback is that it usually requires an especially large number of troops. It also calls for the defender not to maximize the number of troops and obstacles that it places at the front line, but instead to make sure that each line of defense is thickly populated with barriers and soldiers. Of course, defending troops along the line of contact can retreat to lines of defense behind them. Many commanders, however, will be inclined to defend the forward edge of the battle area with as many troops as possible.
Finally, there is mobile defense, which is the boldest of the three strategies. The defender locates a small portion of its troops in forward positions, where they can hinder the attacking forces somewhat, but otherwise allows them to penetrate deep into its rear area. At the appropriate time, the defender uses its Sunday punch – a large body of its own mobile forces – to strike into the flanks of the penetration and cut the attacking forces off from their base. In effect, the invading forces are encircled and isolated, making them an easy target for destruction. Mobile defense is a highly demanding and risky strategy, especially compared to the other two defensive strategies, which simply aim to wear down the attacking armored forces by forcing them to fight their way through well-fortified defensive positions.
THE HISTORY OF BLITZKRIEG
Let us now consider how the historical record fits with these analytical frameworks describing the ABC’s of blitzkrieg. There have been 11 blitzkriegs since the arrival of the tank on the battlefield, four of which involved fair fights, seven of which were unfair fights. The attacker succeeded in one of the four fair fights and in all seven of the unfair fights.
The Israel Defense Forces
(IDF) launched blitzkriegs against the Egyptian army in 1956 and 1967. In both cases, the Israelis decisively
defeated the Egyptians, but neither was a fair fight as the IDF was a superior
fighting force. There have been five
other blitzkriegs besides the four German and two Israeli cases: the 1945
Soviet offensive against
This brief history points
up that the fall of
Turning to the defender’s strategy, a forward defense strategy was employed in all eleven cases. It is not surprising that there is no case of a target state employing a mobile defense, as that strategy s the most demanding and the riskiest. There is also no case of a defender relying on a defense in depth to thwart a blitzkrieg, which is surprising as it is well-suited for that purpose. It seems clear that given the available resources, commanders preferred to place the brunt of their forces well forward and not worry much about thickly populating the follow-on lines of defense.
In the eleven cases of blitzkrieg, all of which involved striking against an opponent employing a forward defense strategy, the attacking forces broke through the initial line of defense every time. In eight of the eleven cases, the ensuing deep strategic penetration led to a decisive victory. The three exceptions are the German blitzkriegs against the Red Army in 1941 and 1942, and against the Allies in 1944. In all three cases, the defender was able to create new lines of defense in their rear and wear down the Wehrmacht. In effect, both the Red Army’s and the Allies’ forward defense strategy morphed into a defense in depth, which, as emphasized, is ideally suited for defeating a blitzkrieg.
This brief history of
blitzkrieg, coupled with an understanding of how that strategy works, sheds
much light on the prospects of the Ukrainian counteroffensive succeeding. In fact, the evidence
shows Kyiv’s blitzkrieg stood virtually no chance of
succeeding. For starters,
A Fair Fight
To determine whether
Regarding the number of
soldiers each side had ready for the fight, it is impossible to get precise
figures. Nevertheless, the available
evidence indicates that the size of the two forces going into the
counteroffensive was roughly equal. I
estimate that each side had roughly 250,000 soldiers who were prepared for the
fight. Tellingly, I cannot find evidence
of anyone claiming that either side had a meaningful numerical advantage on the
eve of the counteroffensive.
In terms of the quality of those fighting forces – to include their resolve – it appears that there is little difference between the two sides. One often hears the claim in the West that the Russians are “suffering serious morale and other systemic problems” and thus there was a good chance they would crack in the face of the counteroffensive. But that is not the view one usually hears from the Ukrainian military (which is doing the fighting), where it is widely acknowledged that the Russian army has become a more formidable fighting force since the war started and is not about to collapse anytime soon. Indeed, the fact that Russian forces were able to wear down the Ukrainians, who fought bravely and tenaciously, in the fiercely contested battle for Bakhmut – which happened in the months before the counteroffensive began – shows that the Ukrainians did not have a meaningful qualitative edge on the battlefield by the late spring of 2023.
Turning to the weaponry
available to both armies,
In brief, given the Russian advantage in artillery, it is not an open and shut case that this was a fair fight. But given the rough balance of soldiers and other kinds of weaponry, and the fact that artillery is not as important for the attacking forces in a blitzkrieg as it is for attrition warfare, it seems reasonable to call it a fair fight. Still, if one wants to make the case that this was an unfair fight, it was the Russians – not the Ukrainians – who held an advantage when the counteroffensive started on 4 June.
As emphasized, the Wehrmacht’s 1940 victory in
Ukrainian Capabilities For Launching A Blitzkrieg
There is no question that blitzkrieg, to quote Barry Posen, is “one of the most daunting of military tasks”. The attacking Ukrainian forces, as he notes, had to “break through dense, well-prepared defensive positions, find some running room, and then either move quickly toward an important geographic objective such as the Sea of Azov, hoping to unravel the remains of the defending Russian army along the way, or quickly attempt to encircle a portion of Russia’s sizable forces in hopes of annihilating them”. The deep strategic penetration, in other words, had to be executed quickly, while the defending Russian forces were on their heels. That meant the breakthrough battle also had to be won quickly, so that the Russians would not have time to move their reserves to seal off any penetrations of their front line.
This demanding task
naturally requires highly trained and experienced soldiers organized into
large-size armor units – be they brigades or divisions – that could operate
together on the battlefield. The key units in the Ukrainian army that were tasked with making
the blitzkrieg work were poorly trained and lacking in combat experience,
especially as it relates to armored warfare.
The main striking force was comprised of 12 brigades, nine of which NATO
armed and trained for 4-6 weeks. Many of the 36,000
troops in those nine brigades were raw recruits. It is worth noting that only 11 percent of
the 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers that
There is simply no way a recruit can be turned into a highly competent soldier with 4-6 weeks of training. It is impossible to do anything more than teach the basics of soldiering in such a short period. To compound the problem, the emphasis in the training was on turning recruits into soldiers who could fight together in small units, not on training and molding the 9 or 12 brigades in the main strike force to operate together on the battlefield. Moreover, there is evidence that in some cases, the three battalions that were in those brigades were trained in different countries. Unsurprisingly, two Western defense analysts who visited the war zone after the counteroffensive began, remarked that: “we are convinced that although Ukrainian forces can fight in a combined-arms fashion, they cannot yet do it at scale”.
Much is made of the fact
that the US and NATO more generally are committed to training the Ukrainians to
engage in “combined
which was supposed to go a long way toward preparing them for the
counteroffensive. The fact is that the
Western armies of 2023 had little experience in armored warfare – the
To make matters worse, not only was
It is hardly surprising that after the counteroffensive began, The New York Times reported that Ukrainian “soldiers along the front-line blamed commanders for pushing raw recruits into battle and using untested units to spearhead the counteroffensive. Others criticized the inadequacy of a few weeks of basic training in various NATO countries”.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive faced another huge
problem: lack of close air support for the attacking forces.
It is almost impossible for a blitzkrieg to work without close air
support, especially for the deep strategic penetration, but it matters greatly
even for purposes of winning the breakthrough battle. As John Nagl, a retired
colonel who teaches warfighting at the US Army War College,
put it: “
Russian Capabilities For Thwarting A Blitzkrieg
First, there was virtually no chance that the
Ukrainians would surprise the Russian defenders regarding the location of the
main attack – as the Wehrmacht had been able to do
Furthermore, the Russian
military had an abundance of drones and other ISR (intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance) assets that made it almost impossible for
The Russian defenses were
clearly stronger at some points along the line than others, but they were
especially strong in the Zaporizhzhia region, where
Third, to make matters
worse, the Russians had a variety of capabilities that made it extremely
dangerous for Ukrainian forces to move out in the open, which they had to do
almost all the time since they were on the offensive and had to be constantly
moving forward. For starters, the
Russians had significant ISR assets that would allow them to detect
As one highly knowledgeable blogger on military affairs (“Big Serge”) put it: “Western observers do not seem open to the possibility that the accuracy of modern ranged fires (be it Lancet drones, guided artillery shells, or GMLRS rockets) combined with the density of ISR systems may simply make it impossible to conduct sweeping mobile operations, except in very specific circumstances. When the enemy has the capacity to surveil staging areas, strike rear area infrastructure with cruise missiles and drones, precisely saturate approach lines with artillery fire, and soak the earth in mines, how exactly can it be possible to maneuver?”
In short, there is little doubt the Russians were well-positioned to stop a blitzkrieg in its tracks. Thus, given that the counteroffensive would be a fair fight and the Ukrainians were ill-prepared to launch a blitzkrieg, it is hard to see how they could succeed. The only hope was that the Russian army would fall apart once the shooting started, but there was little reason to think that would happen.
Let us assume I am wrong,
and there was a serious chance the blitzkrieg would succeed, as almost every
policymaker, pundit, and strategist in the West argued. Even so, the war would not end, and
The Russians, however, were
hardly likely to go to the bargaining table and cave into Ukrainian and Western
demands. After all, Putin and other
Russian leaders believe they are facing an existential threat, which would
surely lead them to double down and do whatever is necessary to defeat the
enemy at the gates. In short, the Ukrainian blitzkrieg was doomed to fail, but
even if it had succeeded in achieving its limited goals, it would not have
succeeded in ending the war on favorable terms for
THE RESULTS SO FAR
The counteroffensive has been an abysmal failure,
contrary to the expectations of almost everyone in the West.
The Ukrainian military
quickly changed tactics after its initial setbacks and instead of trying to
fight through the grey zone with armored forces, they decided to try wearing
down the Russian forces by attacking them with small infantry units backed up
by massive artillery barrages. These
were sometimes called “mosquito tactics” in the West. While
this new approach reduced
It is worth noting that
while the Ukrainian army was waging its unsuccessful counteroffensive along the
southern and eastern parts of the line of contact, the Russian
army was on the offensive in the north, pushing toward the Ukrainian-held city
It is now widely recognized that the
counteroffensive has failed and there is no serious prospect of
Western elites are now scrambling to find a way to
rescue the deteriorating situation. Some still hold out hope that giving
Others focus on how
It appears that most Western elites and most
Ukrainians are resigned to the fact that there is no escaping a bloody war of
attrition with Russia. It also seems that many doubt whether
THE DARKNESS AHEAD
What happens next? Two points are in order.
First, there will be a
blame game in the months ahead regarding who bears responsibility for the
disastrous counteroffensive. Indeed, it
has already started. Few will admit that
they were wrong to think the counteroffensive stood a reasonable chance of
succeeding or was sure to succeed. That
will certainly be true in the
The coming recriminations
will be ugly and will hinder
Second, many in the West
will argue that the time is now ripe for diplomacy. The failed counteroffensive shows that
Regrettably, there is no diplomatic solution in
sight. There are irreconcilable differences between
the two sides over security guarantees for
The other unresolvable issue concerns
In addition to those
obstacles, both sides view each other
as an existential threat, which is an enormous obstacle to any kind of meaningful
compromise. It is hard to imagine, for
[Note: Some words and/or phrases appearing in quotes in this report are English language approximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]
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The word Kremlin (fortress inside a city) as used in
this report refers to Russian citadels, including in