Published on NewColdWar & A Socialist in Canada, Sept 7, 2022:
The following analysis was first published by a Russian blogger on the Telegram messaging service on September 3, 2022. Translation to English is by A Socialist In Canada and New Cold War.org. The original in Russian is here.
From time to time, retired generals and armchair analysts call for a general mobilization in Russia. As though all Russian citizens will enter the battle in Ukraine and Russia will soon be victorious. Problem solved. Soldiers will return in triumph to their native cities and a victory parade will be held on Red Square in Moscow.
Sometimes soldiers from the front line join the retired generals and couch analysts. That’s understandable; after all, it is they who bear all the hardships of the special military operation on their shoulders. But in general, this idea (‘taking over Ukraine as soon as possible’) reveals a total misunderstanding of both the principles of international politics and the current situation.
As a rule, those people who say “The special operation is not war against Ukraine” do agree that Russia is at war with the NATO military bloc in the form of the special operation in Ukraine. And if we are at war with NATO, then even the defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and complete control over Ukraine will not lead to victory. It is from this point of view that it is necessary to consider what is happening (or not happening) in the steppes of Donbass and in the , Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
Let’s look at the dynamics of the special operation. In the first stage, the Russian army tried to occupy large cities, including Kyiv, using the factor of surprise and attracting local elites to its side. This was quite successful in the south but it failed in the north of Ukraine. The quick cavalry charge did not bring the desired results.
However, it was possible to extract advantages from it. The widely stretched front line and the threat looming over Kyiv forced the Armed Forces of Ukraine to withdraw some of the most combat-ready troops from the Donbass. Thanks to this, the Donetsk group of Ukraine was split into two parts. The southern part was surrounded in Mariupol and liquidated, after which land communication appeared between Rostov, Crimea and Kherson. Then, by eliminating the Severodonetsk-Lisichansk grouping, the front line was leveled.
And so in August, the intensity of hostilities subsided. In the Kharkov, Nikolaev and Zaporozhye directions, the armies of Russia and the Lugansk and Donetsk peoples’ republics went onto the defensive. Active hostilities continued in the Donbass. There, the “barrage of fire” tactic is being used, in which the infantry advances only after thorough artillery shelling of the enemy’s positions. Given the great depth of Ukraine defense line, this is quite reasonable. Add to this that in late August – early September, the ill-fated ‘counter-offensive’ by the Armed Forces of Ukraine began on the Kherson region. But it has slowed and is choking on its own blood.
Critics of the special operation suggest intensifying the fighting; for example, to encircle the Donetsk grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the north and south and place it into another cauldron. This thought seems logical and correct, if not for two “buts”.
It is quite clear that the success of such an operation (or another similar one) will require a significant increase in the number of troops involved. Obviously, the Russian leadership does not want to start a universal mobilization (conscription). This means that an offensive would require calling upon the army’s reserve forces, which at the moment remain free and are ready to repel possible new threats in any direction.
If Russia uses its military reserves, its army will lose its freedom of maneuver and will definitely have to complete the special operation in Ukraine as soon as possible. Taking into account the mobilization capabilities of Ukraine and the support from the West (weapons, mercenaries, and also, presumably, the Polish army under the guise of volunteers), it would not be possible to accomplish this quickly.
Now the second ‘”but’, even more important. Reality is not a computer game where it is enough to capture several areas to win, allowing the gamer to complete the ‘mission’ and exit the game with a sense of accomplishment. In reality, a military victory does not end the story. It wouold only allow Russia and its allies to enter a new historical stage in a more or less convenient position. At the moment, Russia’s position is quite strong. The West still does not dare to play a risky game; it is providing Ukraine with limited support only. But an active advance of the Russian army towards Kyiv and the Polish border would risk creating a new situation in which the Polish army would directly intervene in the conflict.
Today, that army is ready to enter the territory of Ukraine and play with the revival of the Polish Commonwealth [17th and 18th centuries]. And in general, significant successes by Russia in a rapid time frame would force the West to act more decisively. Such a turn of events would heighten the risk of a ‘hot war’ with NATO. This, in turn, would inevitably lead to a general mobilization in Russia, the transfer of the country’s economy to a military grounding, and a drop in the standard of living of the population. Does Russia need that?
The answer to that question is obvious. In the current situation, when Russia is strong and the West is indecisive, there is one factor that allows Russia to be in an even more successful position. This is the factor of time. Before our very eyes, this has become a weapon. The longer the military operation drags on, the more ferocious the economic crisis becomes, into which the US has driven the EU countries. And ominously, winter is coming. This may well change the position of European countries in relation to Ukraine and Russia, and may also cause a serious split in the NATO military bloc.
Tired of the burden of problems that have piled on, the West will dump Ukraine. It is not yet tired enough; we shall have to wait. But we’re in no hurry. Again, this does not mean that the Russian army has stopped. The offensive continues in the Donbass. In addition, it is known that the accumulation of [Russian] combat forces has been going on in the Kherson region for more than a month.
One more thought. The military potential of Russia makes it quite easy to conquer Ukraine. But it would be difficult to hold onto it. Especially given the anti-Russian ideological indoctrination in Ukraine which has now lasted eight years. In this scenario, we would confront a large, disloyal population which, with the support of the West, would give rise to hundreds of sabotage and terrorist groups. If the West refuses to support Ukraine, we reduce this problem and get the opportunity to solve the Ukrainian problem with minimal casualties and without the risk of a ‘hot war’ with the NATO bloc.
Thus, we can conclude that the military leadership of Russia has deliberately reduced the intensity of hostilities and is delaying the special operation in order to bring the West by careful actions to crisis and splits. This is the only way to get the most out of the special operation and enter a new round of history in a stronger position.
I repeat: the war is not with Ukraine, and a military victory in Ukraine will not end the war but, rather, aggravate it. In view of the foregoing, we see that at present, the special military operation is unfolding quite successfully. You can calm down and move on with your life. What is required of us is to do our job well and support our army so that victory will be assured.
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