Tuesday 5 July 2022

Putin's next roll of the dice

Can you believe it, Putin declined my carefully reasoned military advice of 8 weeks ago

... much as he evidently wanted to achieve more, Putin's orders must surely now be: Define a defensible subset of what we now occupy - categorically including whatever it takes to water Crimea.  Dig in; set up the resupply lines; and hold that territory to the last mercenary.  Lay waste and abandon the rest.

... and plugged on with his "main aim" (as hastily re-defined shortly after the attack on Kyiv foundered in such a humiliating manner), being to take the whole of the Donbas.  In practical terms this meant rolling up the major Donbas towns of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk which, 8 weeks later he has just "achieved" (by levelling the former and all-but levelling the latter) - at a formidable cost in blood and treasure ... and time.

Although he was always going to be able to do this - he has the artillery - this was a highly questionable enterprise.  At best, he's gained a PR point for use with his compliant home media.  (Nobody else is even slightly impressed, and his homegrown 'milibloggers' are scathing.)  At worst, his casualties may very well force his hand as regards some kind of call-up by stealth, should he wish to carry through with his stated whole-Donbas objective.

The aforementioned towns were not at all ideal for the defenders.  Even so, the Ukrainians inflicted high casualties on the attackers, as street-by-street fighting does - the very reason Soviet military doctrine was clear that it should always be avoided.  And (unlike at Mariupol), the surviving defenders were able to withdraw before total encirclement, their job complete. 

But the next objectives to the west will be a different story, despite all the diversionary hints of reopening the fronts at Kharkiv and Kyiv.  In particular the next target necessarily to be engaged (if he seriously intends to take the whole of Donbas) is the area around Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, an even better-prepared killing ground than the two riverside towns that have occupied him for two months.  And Ukraine is tooling up with long range artillery.  As noted here and elsewhere many times already, Russia has proved itself surprisingly inept at the offensive; and such "lessons" as it may have learned in the field during the "victories" in built-up, unfortified Mariupol, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk will not serve for very much in the next phase.  Everything the Russians plan is being telegraphed to its opponents and meticulously prepared-for:  up and down, up and down, fly the planes of NATO aerial reconnaissance.  

How much of his airforce is he willing to hazard in this operation?  What can he hope to achieve before winter, when his gas-supply weapon finally comes into its own against his NATO tormentors?  Unhappy will be the troops of the first echelon for the next stage of Putin's adventure.  



Anonymous said...

The tactic of flying Russia bombers over Russian territory and the semi blind firing of missiles into Ukraine from there, is an example of how unimpressive the Russian airforce is.

Caeser Hēméra said...

If even half the reports from the last few weeks are true, they're leaving their borders threadbare in an effort to keep things as a "police action", and now Ukraine is capable of taking out weapon depots well behind enemy lines.

The "goodwill gesture" of leaving Snake Island after repeatedly expending effort in keeping it, the okaying of NATOs expansion after all of those threats... It's all getting a little David Brent. You can easily imagine Gervais doing a voiceover of a Putin clip. That the ineptness has infected something so vital to the Russian nation ego is a little shocking.

It'll be interesting to see how much momentum Russia maintains in the Donbas, and how much of the southern coast Ukraine regains over the next month.

Caeser Hēméra said...

And speaking of inept governments, sorry for a potential thread derail, but how long has Boris got?

I can't say I'd be unhappy if serendipity gave us the exits of both Johnson and Starmer on the same day.

dearieme said...

If shoulder-fired missiles make tanks and aircraft much less useful then it's back to the Great War: men in trenches and artillery.

Bill Quango MP said...

Not very many realistic options left now. Failing to seize the key objectives early on, before events prevented them being gained at all.

Having taken such losses to little effect. Weak and sometimes incompetent political appointees. Few professionals and too many cronies. Not much has been gained for such a horrendous expenditure of treasure.

The task is too difficult. The support for the enemy now too numerous and sustained. Such a botched campaign of basic errors. Poor plans. Too many objectives and not enough focus or resources allocated to the key priorities.

Because those methods had worked before, he thought he could rinse and repeat forever.

An totally unnecessary conflict full of unforced, basic errors. Built on lies, deceit and one man’s egotistical belief that the rules won’t be applied to him in his desire for great glory.

Surely Johnson must now resign?

Matt said...

Very good BQ - LMFAO.

E-K said...

Meanwhile Putin has handed Boris Johnson back his arse in what is basically a cost-of-living crisis led putsch.

If the economy were going well and had not been fatally damaged by boomerang sanctions do you think Boris would be staring at the exit door right now ?

Anonymous said...

Oh, so it was our Boris who imposed all those sanctions on Russia was it E-K? And not that nasty Biden and those nasty EU types at all? And has Mr Putin picked on us for specially high oil price?

Anonymous said...

"Oh, so it was our Boris who imposed all those sanctions on Russia was it E-K?"

I believe it was indeed. UK is officially an independent country and could have continued to import Russian oil. Gas would be a different story as we would depend on pipelines through other countries.

Still, if Russia hasn't conquered Ukraine in three days, its still in there punching. The real losers, apart from the poor Ukrainians, whose leaders were elected on a platform of improving relationships with Russia and proceeded to do just the opposite*, are UK/EU and especially Germany, whose industry is being hammered. Ours would be hammered too if we hadn't closed it all down ;-)

This lamentable episode has illuminated that when push comes to shove, EU strategic independence was a complete mirage.

The real winners, at least in the short term, are the US State Department and US energy and arms companies.

* it was around 2012 Zelensky and his cronies became the beneficial owners of various offshore companies, with interests including London property. Payment in advance by the US?


Since then various Ukrainian politicos have been buying boltholes in Switzerland.


Anonymous said...

Brent price yesterday the same as April 8, 102.77.

Pretty sure the petrol price isn't what it was on April 8.

E-K said...

My dear Anonymous (7.22)

Boris certainly won't be the only western leader getting his arse handed back to him but ours was by far the gobbiest and most idiotic.

I disagree with BQ that Putin is on a power trip. This is quite simply revenge from a man who got sick of being poked by America.

E-K said...

... America must be rubbing their hands with glee that Putin took the bate.

Just watch. New Nato member states all to be issued with *only* standard issue Nato weaponry, made in America, of course.

Anonymous said...

OT but our free and independent media seems to be pretty quiet about the Dutch farmers protests. Imagine if this was a BLM demo and police were firing at it!


Anonymous said...

Hah ! ND, this is your bailiwick I think.


MEPs on Wednesday backed a controversial plan to label certain nuclear and gas investments as sustainable. The objection raised by two key parliamentary committees in mid-June to not label the two power sources as green as part of the upcoming taxonomy was rejected by 328 MEPs, with 278 in favour, and 33 abstentions. Shouts of "traitors" and jeers could be heard in the plenary room in Strasbourg when the result of the vote was revealed.
The governments of Austria, Luxembourg -- as well as Greenpeace -- have already announced they plan to challenge the decision in court.

What is the taxonomy? The taxonomy is a planned EU classification to give the financial sector clarity on which economic activities can be considered sustainable that has been in the works for years.

But in February, the European Commission unveiled a controversial Delegated Act to label nuclear and gas as sustainable, caving to pressure from France and Berlin, which are currently respectively dependent on nuclear and gas.

Nick Drew said...

Indeed, anon. This one has been bubbling along for a year and more.

Perhaps an appropriate footnote to the previous 'Greta' post ..!

Anonymous said...


Our unprecedented sanctions will cripple Russia’s war machine to help ensure Putin loses the war in Ukraine


MOSCOW (BLOOMBERG) - Russia has pocketed US$24 billion from selling energy to China and India in just three months following its invasion of Ukraine, showing how higher global prices are limiting efforts by the US and Europe to punish President Vladimir Putin. China spent US$18.9 billion on Russian oil, gas and coal in the three months to the end of May, almost double the amount a year earlier, latest customs data show. Meanwhile, India shelled out US$5.1 billion in the same period, more than five times the value of a year ago. That's an extra US$13 billion in revenue from both countries compared to the same months in 2021.