Rhythm of War

NEW – February 19, 2023

Now there is a phase of Russian domination

“Zavtra” newspaper: Sergey Borisovich, how can we assess the positions of the parties at the front today?

Sergey PERESLEGIN (Russian literary critic and publicist)“Both sides are now making it clear that they have powerful military reserves. Ukraine declares its new assault brigades, which are already supposedly formed, and that they will involve armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, which are expected to be delivered in such quantities that they will be enough to complete several brigades, and maybe even corps – according to the standards and organisational forms of NATO. But, I think, so far only brigades can be deployed from the declared combat vehicles, and the corps is unlikely. Data on the serious concentration and training of the UAF reserve also raise some doubts.

The Russian side also states that it has significant military reserves — in personnel and equipment. It is said that troops are prepared and about to enter the battle. And the offensive on Artemovsk (Bakhmut), for all its scale, is preliminary in nature.

Based on this information, discussions began about the future prospects of a military operation in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Armed Forces believe that they will be able to launch a fundamentally important offensive in the spring. But, most likely, they will not be able to prepare it so quickly, a more realistic date is in the summer.

From the point of view of the rhythms of war, the phase of Russian dominance is now underway. But in the current situation, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation should either attack faster, or abandon it altogether and apply the strategic scheme of the Battle of Kursk, when the Soviet troops, who had an advantage in all components of the military machine, switched to defensive tactics in order to weaken the fascist groups, and then go on a counteroffensive. This option of our actions is also quite possible.

It is of great importance how the battles for Artemovsk (Bakhmut) will end. Here we can recall that in 1916 (that is, far from immediately after the outbreak of the First World War) , the commanders of the parties saw that the enemy could not simultaneously fight more than one battle on the scale of the Battle of the Somme — one of the largest battles of that war. Therefore, it is now important for the Russian Armed Forces to properly assess their capabilities and understand whether we have enough forces to launch a new offensive of the same scale without finishing a major battle in the Artemovsk area. If so, the situation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces may very quickly become complicated. In turn, Kiev counts on only one powerful blow in any of its plans — it is clearly not ready for two. And this is also a fundamental point in assessing the current military situation.

Evgeny Prigozhin noted that the enemy is fighting to the end and a significant moral and psychological breakdown of its units has not yet occurred. And this answers the question of why it is so important to finish the battle for Artemovsk (Bakhmut) to the end. If the city is abandoned by Ukrainian troops, the mood of the UAF fighters may be greatly shaken — as happened with the Germans after Stalingrad. But another thing is also true: if the Russian Armed Forces fail to take Bakhmut, then we may already have difficulties.”

War drains all sides of the conflict. What is the risk of prolonging the crisis in Ukraine for Russia and the West?

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“Gradually, Russia is coming to the realisation that the former world will not exist: its internal content is being deformed, the former structure of the economy is changing. The war forces us to rebuild everything in earnest.

As the Russian-Ukrainian conflict drags on, the West has the time, opportunity, and desire to launch military production and start providing the Ukrainian front with more shells, ammunition, and military equipment. This is extremely important and profitable for it, not only from the point of view of testing new weapons, but also for heating up its own economy, bringing it out of a state of recession. The fact that Ukraine is suffering at the same time, which in any scenario of the conflict will not recover, is generally clear to everyone and does not bother anyone in the West. Therefore, it is unprofitable for Russia to prolong the conflict.

We have a real chance that the basic issues of the Special Operation will be resolved in the spring. In other words, the war will continue, but both its outcome and the conditions under which it will end will become obvious. That is why spring may turn out to be the period of the main battle at the front. And the sooner this happens, the higher the probability of passing military operations under the dictation of the Russian side. And vice versa: postponing a strategic battle carries the danger that the West and Ukraine will try to dramatically turn the situation on the front in their favour. And Russia will be able to change this situation only by a counter battle. The later it happens, the harder it will be for the Russian troops.”

What is behind the numerous high-profile resignations in Ukraine?

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“Resignations, I think, will continue further, because in Kiev, the confrontation between the political and military leadership is quite clearly observed. The military demands to be given the opportunity to minimise losses, and politicians seek from the military what they are not ready to do — no matter what, to fight with increasingly harsh means, regardless of any victims. This is a serious contradiction. Historically, it resembles the convulsive attempts of the military leaders of the Third Reich after 1942, by any means, up to a military coup, to get out of the war — with the obvious desire of the political leadership of Nazi Germany to fight to the bitter end. The outcome of World War II is well known: the fascist state was completely defeated.”

What are the reasons for disagreements between the military and civilian leadership of Kiev?

“At a time when the West in Ukraine is solving its not disinterested tasks, the Ukrainian military is trying to preserve the remnants of the army and, if possible, statehood. When I say ‘remnants’, I do not mean that the UAF has already been defeated, but that they have suffered serious losses. At the same time, politicians openly bet on a situation when the death of Ukraine becomes the prologue of a further ‘great battle’ to destroy Russia. In this regard, they take the side of the West, and not their military. This is what causes the conflict. The military and civilian leaders see their country’s future differently. Political leaders do not project the future of Ukraine as a state, for them it is no longer essential. And this, of course, is not just a conflict, but fundamental disagreements among the elites of the former Soviet republic.”

Nataliya Lukovnikova

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